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What is Verizon’s New Remote Diagnostics Tool? We Have Answers

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Verizon plans to debut a new “Remote Diagnostics” tool when the LG Revolution receives its next update. The tool will be used by customer services reps to remotely access your phone during support calls to quickly fix or address your problems. Verizon assures us that this tool will never be activated unless the customer has given the customer service rep permission to do so. With privacy such a hot topic these days, there are bound to be questions or concerns about this type of software being installed on our phones. We pinged Verizon to get some answers and heard back.  

What is Verizon’s Remote Diagnostic Tool?

New customer care solution to improve device issue diagnosis during customer support calls. When a customer calls into Verizon Wireless Customer Care, this solution, with the customer’s permission, allows support personnel to remotely view the user’s device for troubleshooting and application demonstrations.

Is this service eventually going to roll out to all Verizon smartphones through updates?

“This is a new tool that we plan to bring to some phones this year as we continue to enhance the customer service experience.”

How does the tool work during a support call?

“Customers with a Revolution by LG who call customer service are not required to use the tool. The tool will not run unless a customer gives explicit permission during a call with customer support. If customer support suggests using the tool as a way to diagnose a problem the customer will see a notification on their device after customer support initiates the Verizon Remote Diagnostics tool. A customer will then see a permission request directly on their device along with “terms and conditions” and an “Accept” or “Reject” button. A customer will need to select “Accept” in order for the tool to run. Customers are free to select “Reject” and the tool will not run.

Customers will also be given a 4-digit PIN by customer support and that PIN must be entered in the device by the customer in order for this to work.”

Does it access contacts, passwords or other personal information?

 “The tool never pulls contacts, account numbers, passwords and the like.  And, it’s important to remember, it will run only when a customer calls customer support and gives permission to use the Verizon Remote Diagnostics tool.”

Can users opt-out of receiving the Remote Diagnostics tool? Can it be removed?

“It is a piece of the new software and cannot be removed, but it does not run in the background. It only runs when a customer calls support and gives permission to use it.”

So again, if you didn’t see it the third or 4th time, this Remote Diagnostics tool will not run in the background. It is however, a new piece of software that is installed in the background, but can only be activated when you give a customer service rep permission to use it.

Will be interesting to see if the developer community can locate this service and remove it without breaking the phone. I can imagine that most readers of sites like DL would rather not have it installed in the background whether it runs or not.

  • http://twitter.com/victoriak68 Vickie

    Verizon’s Remote Diagnostics software, I can see the relevance for many issues that a person can have on a device that would make talking to tech support so much easier. Except, the last time I talked to tech support I ended up solving the problem on my own after I hung up with them. They suggested I replace the device and it cost me $12 to do it, even though I have insurance and was still under warranty. After I hung up I found the solution, but then had to wait a month to be reimbursed the $12 I was charged. I’m pretty sure this new “tool” is something pretty useless. Of course, there are a lot of people out there that don’t know their phone and I suppose tech support people seem like geniuses to those individuals. Who am I to judge?

  • speedcan

    if you look at data usage it is running in the background and has data usage even tho i have never called verizon. so it has a service and it is active. so if i have a limited data package it is being used. and battery is being used/ system resources.

  • Metaldog007

    Yes, it does run in the background. It uses a small amount of data everyday or time I connect to the net. If it doesn’t run in the background then why does it use data?

  • Masterace09

    Either way this is as dumb a idea as when they tried price hiking on paying bills oh yes it gives csr’s the ability to navigate the phone for “TS’ but lets remember we got sickos and morons out there too.
    So rather than just take the time to train your agents to properly troubleshoot devices and know there correct terminology when explaining stuff to customers you rather take the give the little kid a loaded gun approach top notch.

  • Masterace09

    Here is the problem with this, being a former tech for them, half of these so called “customer service reps” are idiots plan and simple.

  • jimvit1

    WOW, there are a lot of paranoid people on here or there are a lot of cheaters. If you root you can remove it and fix your own phone or go to another carrier.

  • sabrina D

    This is for the cause of running custom software .

  • guest

    Big Bother is watching you.

  • DanKemple

    I can see the big brother aspect, and I can see the usefulness. I guess I would have to point out that everyone who owns a windows PC from 1998 OS on has Remote Desktop, which if you knew the I.P. Address theoretically people could access your computer remotely…for tech support or otherwise. This is virtually the same thing but the fact it is on our phones and we have no way to “password protect” it does draw some alarms. I imagine if they used it for anything other than what they say you could sue for invasion of privacy or the like, but should have the option to not have it on there.

  • drt054

    Very understandable for the people out there are dumb.  Should it be forced on my phone? NO. Bad move VERIZON. This tool will not be on any Custom ROM, because once a tech support person goes into your phone files and sees all the rooted apps then there goes your warranty.  Then what if they say the only way to diagnose the problem is to use the tool and you refuse?  Then you don’t get a replacement and they will probably try to void your warranty some how.  Not good!!

    • drt054

      It just rolled out to LG Revolution VS910 in the V8 Firmware update this weekend.. I flashed back to V7 real quick..

  • Deltaechoe

    Yeah it doesn’t run in the background until some hacker figures out how to access it. Device security will be a concern with a service like this

  • Angelbowler2002

    Seems to me it’s going to be like what’s on my Dell desktop. It it’s there so if I agree, the tech can see what’s wrong and try fixing the issue saving me time and money. So all I see is that it’s a good thing to benefit people. However, I previously had a LG phone (will never again) so I understand why they are starting with that brand. For now I’m very happy with my Droid Bionic!

  • poeddroiduser

    aka Carrier IQ 2.0? 

  • NAM37

    This is likely just LogMeIn Rescue.

  • Lethalprophet

    Does it access contacts, passwords or other personal information?

     ”The tool never pulls contacts, account numbers, passwords and the like.”

    That doesn’t really answer your question, does it. I’m betting the answer is Yes, it can access contacts, passwords and other personal information. I wonder if tech support will be directed to see if a phone is rooted or running a custom ROM when the activate the tool.

    Oh, and Yay! More bloat!

  • Treuluv

    I had a VZW tech support guy ask me right click on the screen…i had to all him if he meant that i should use my right hand. He still didn’tunderstand that it was a touch screen i was on.maybe theyneed this tool more than the customers do.

  • Josh Groff

     Or, you can remove it. Problem solved, end rant?

  • GotSka81

    They say you can reject the request to use the remote diagnostic utility, but they fail to state whether or not the technician will continue to troubleshoot your phone if you reject the claim.  I would be willing to bet if you reject the remote support agent that Verizon will refuse to provide any further support as “the user refused to allow the technician to troubleshoot the device as necessary”…BUT…all that means is you have to go to the store.

    Next question:  They state the software cannot be uninstalled, but we all know ICS allows users to disable (or freeze) programs.  Will the user be able to disable this program?  I think most would find that as an acceptable compromise between uninstalling and allowing it to be installed and potentially running.

  • Droidzilla

    People need to stop pissing themselves. Who here calls Verizon tech support to get tips on how to fix their phone when something’s wrong? Who here doesn’t run a custom ROM? If you didn’t raise your hand to either question, you can take off the tinfoil hat and put down the pitchfork.

    • Josh Groff

       Can we put on our newspaper sailor hats again?

      • Droidzilla

        Absolutely. Also, cardboard box robot suits are encouraged.

        • Josh Groff

           Can I wear both or is that going overboard?

          • Droidzilla

            Try to keep it together.

  • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

    Has to be right?

  • Justin Garrison

    (I posted this on the LG article, but it’s more relevant here anyway.)
    I thought this was already well-known, but perhaps not. I have a Galaxy Nexus, and each time I’ve had to call technical support (which has been several, due to some voice quality issues I had with the phone), it says something like, “You have a device that allows us to access your device remotely in order to assist with troubleshooting.” or something to that effect and asks if I approve this. This happens AFTER I put my mobile number in, so I have to imagine the Galaxy Nexus already has this since the wording is so device-specific. 
    By the way, Verizon can already view your software version. They could when I worked there in 2010 and I’m sure it’s only become more advanced. And trust me, if you’ve ever worked for a Verizon call center, you would be gleeful about a feature such as this. Verizon (and any other carrier) can already tell exactly where you are, who you call, who you text, and what applications you download. This feature just isn’t scary at all to me, and in fact I find it pretty darn awesome… and possibly even helpful.

    • Josh Groff

       This ^ Silly people, thinking their information is private in the first place. ;)

  • Meli

    It’s just like a computer technician remoting to your PC… I don’t get the big deal?  If it’s only used when I say “OK VZDub you have my permission, fix my problem for me please!” Just like some people who are helpless when troubleshooting their own PC, it’s just a better way to troubleshoot.

    People who root their phones obviously know that it voids the warranty so hey, go ahead and remove it, VZW can’t help you anyway!  Plus you can probably fix your own problems, right?  You’re smart enough to root your phone, soooo, good luck!

    • Josh Groff

       For errors pertaining to Verizon’s network, one could always flash back to stock and have them diagnose the problem.

  • FortitudineVincimus

    root then delete

  • Dongoracing1

    I had them ask me this and I have the G-Nex! WTF so does that mean its on the G-Nex?

  • akazerotime

    ::at the end of call:: VZW Tech> I noticed that part of your problem may be a update to the security policies that did not look like they were applied so I have installed them and should install after a reboot. Thank you for choosing VZW, have a good day”.  ::phone reboots::  Customer> Hmm, where did superuser go?
    That’s how it’s going to go down

  • dbam987

    This actually is a good thing to have. It’s like Microsoft Windows 7′s Remote Assistance utility. 
    IMO , its not bloatware if it does not run in the background, and is free to use. It is bloatware if its trial software that has an expiration date.

    • tehserver

       Something has to be listening on the device in order to start the program. If it was initiated by the user of the device I would believe that nothing was running in the background, but since tech support is the one that initiates it, I find it hard to believe.

      • guest

        it works just like if you would send an app to your phone from the market

        • tehserver

           Unless Android is written so poorly that it will accept a command or file from anywhere there has to be something listening and expecting a file/command/some sort of data. If Android were accepting data/commands from anywhere, this remote diagnostic tool would be the least of my worries. Since we’ve pretty much ruled out that it isn’t written that way, there needs to be some process running on the device that is waiting for a command for the remote assistance tool. Unless the market works through telepathy between the Google servers and the phone, there has to be some sort of communication between the servers behind the market to your phone in order to start the download of an application.

          • Josh Groff

            There is a Google framework service or something like that constantly running. I assume this will work sort of the same way.

          • tehserver

             Which is where I take issue with their statement from the article since it explicitly states that it does not run in the background. If they just changed it to be a user initiated program it would be better. How hard is it to instruct a user to launch an app?

      • dbam987

        Actually its the user that initiates the whole thing (according to the article). The user is the one who fires up the remoting application.

  • Ben

    This is not new… VZW support has been offering to use their remote diagnostics on my lines since before the GNex was released.  I always clicked “no” on the phone prompt, but didn’t figure it was actually real.

  • http://profiles.google.com/morganfboyle morgan boyle

    “We found a problem, you rooted your phone and are using free wifi tethering apps.  disabled”

  • http://www.hammertechnologies.net/ Chase Johnson

    “The tool will be used by customer services reps to remotely access your
    phone during support calls to quickly fix or address your problems.”

    Yea until Verizon sees fit to start monitoring what you do and what programs you run.

    • Josh Groff

       They’ll finally know how bad I am at angry birds. :/

  • Tim Swann

    Unacceptable software from Verizon. This should be something that a user can download if they want to. For those of us that read Droid-Life and other blogs, I would imagine 99% of us do not want this software on our phones. Even though I am running Liquid on my G-Nex, I might return to stock and use the official update for at least a few weeks and I would find it unacceptable if this came in the update. 

    • Zebra

      And that 99% makes up less than 1% of the consumer base…

      • Josh Groff

         So let me get this straight, we are the 1%. ;)

        Lame jokes aside, I’d say closer to 5-10%

      • Tim Swann

        My point is, is that this kind of software is no different from CarrierIQ. Even though VZ says they won’t be using the software unless we grant permission, do you really think VZ cares? No. They Don’t. This software will run in the background. I can see it. 

      • Ben Zaborowsky

        I believe you have confused the terms “base” and “sheep” and used the former when you should have used the latter.

  • SKAVENG3R

    I think the IDEA is solid. We will have to wait and see it’s practical application once in use. Am I a bit curious it see if it will be taken advantage of, yes. As far as bloat, I understand. do I think they will access my phone, no. I don’t think they would access my phone with out permission, they have to much money to be sued for. So I’m not worried about random phone intrusiveness.

    • Josh Groff

       Even so, it’s not like any information going over their network isn’t being monitored in some way shape or form. I must say, this is a useful tool, and I hope they release a version for us techies who help our families/friends with their phones.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bhaxprime Ben Hackney

    As someone who has worked tech support, I understand the necessity for this tool.  There are a lot of dumb people out there.

    • Josh Groff

      That is exactly why I am glad they announced this, my family usually resorts to calling me though. :/ Now, if they made an app for me to remote access their phone from my phone, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

      • http://www.facebook.com/bhaxprime Ben Hackney

        I hear ya!  HTC just announced today they will be deploying a LogMeIn client with their handsets.  Funny that it comes on the heels of this VZW app, I wonder if they are related but VZW just branded it differently.  At any rate, we can surely expect a consumer remote support app to make its way to Mar…Play, soon.

    • Chris G

      If it were a legit, for TS only service, it could be opted out of.  Their refusal to let us (who mostly know more than they do) opt out means I should be suspicious of it and them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/bhaxprime Ben Hackney

        No one needs to double down on the tin foil hats over this.  It’s just not a big deal…nothing runs in the background, it’s not listening, it is a per incident tool with tech support.  And as soon devs come up with a root/rom it won’t be there because people on this site just don’t need tech support.  But for the 90% that do, or may, if I was a VZW tech I would be doing backflips for joy that I can now just control a users smartphone and show them instead of taking 1 hour to explain them through copying their contacts to their SIM.

        • Josh Groff

           So much easier to have them back contacts up to their Google account. At least in my opinion.

          • BAoxymoron

            not if you’re leaving the android ecosystem ie you broke your phone

          • Josh Groff

             Good point.

          • http://twitter.com/victoriak68 Vickie

            I was backing up my contacts to my Google account when I had a BlackBerry. It isn’t necessary to be in the “android ecosystem” in order to take advantage of Google’s sync. My understanding is that you can do this even on a iOS based device. So if you “broke your phone” you’re contacts and calendar events will be there and can be transferred to another device. Besides, if all a person wants is to learn how to back up contacts, they can visit their local Verizon dealer and a CSR can easily show them in person rather than having some stranger far away invading their phone.
            So apparently, I’m missing your point here.

        • tehserver

          Something has to be listening on the device in order for TS to start the program. I think I’d want more technical details and third party verification before I’d be comfortable at all with it.

          • BAoxymoron

            not if it’s system end…. It would likely work similar to the way text messages work. If they’re extra smart they will have the message simply be a command that runs in shell so that absolutely nothing will be running when it’s not active

          • Loki

            Two words, Patriot Act. 
            “The Patriot Act has been used improperly again and again by law enforcement to invade Americans’ privacy and violate their constitutional rights,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington legislative office.Phone companies such as Verizon and AT&T are prohibited from informing you that your conversations are being monitored. The Patriot act is now a law, but certain provisions with in it must be renewed.

      • Nick

        It can  be opted out of. You click “reject” when the notification pops up. This tool most likely requires root access to perform certain actions on the phone, and for this reason must be baked into the system directly. The logistics involved in having two roms for every phone for this one feature would be extremely expensive. As long as it doesn’t actually run without permission, it’s no big deal.

        • Ben Zaborowsky

          That’s a very big if. So far we only have Verizon’s word that it cannot run without the user’s permission. I’d feel a lot better if this was validated by a reputable 3rd party. Color me paranoid, but after the Patriot Act I don’t trust any communications company or Big Brother.

  • Chris G

    Hello root, good by VZ crapware.

  • Michael_NM

    VZW: Hello, how may I help you?

    Customer: I’m having some trouble with my phone, and I need your help.

    VZW: May I remotely view your device?

    Customer: Sure, I guess.

    VZW: Unfortunately, I can’t help you. I notice that you’re rooted and you’ve been using free tethering for the last two years. I’ll need to transfer you to a collection agent.

    • Josh Groff

      $50 = wifi tether+6GB data, a great deal IMO 20 bucks for 2 more GB is good enough, then the wifi tether included, even better :)

      • Ahku Droid

        If you’re already paying for bandwidth, you should be able to utilize it however you want.  Paying a “tether” fee is no different than how cable companies tried to charge you per TV connected in the 80s for basic service, same with the early years of broadband and per PC charges.  Now, both ideas seem preposterous.  Of course, cable brought back the suck with digital and HD boxes…

        • Josh Groff

          Actually, I think that plan was for hotspot, not tether, now that I think about it. up to 5-8 devices is pretty nice, and for $20 ;)

  • Ad0131065

    Just fyi this is already on the gnex or so it seemed. I called in for help with mine and they asked if they could use remote diagnostics to help me out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Darius-M-Clark/1420215236 Darius M. Clark

      really?

      • Ad0131065

        Yeah I had restored to stock for an issue with 4g dropping. Had me go thru a few steps before transferring me to 2nd tier tech

  • Mike Wilkinson

    Is it just me, or does no one see the potential of this?  Why not make it work for us?  Haven’t you wanted to be on your computer and see whats up with your phone?

    Just sayin’…

    • Josh Groff

       Hell to the yes, like a reverse splash top.

    • http://twitter.com/rsbousquet Richard

      MyMobiler

  • Jeff Tycz

    I have no problem with it, it needs your permission to be activated along with a pin number. 

    • Troll Hunter

       Thats what they want you to believe, Jeffy Boy

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10602828 Mike Hilal

    Yet another reason to get a Gnex

    • ReverendYo

      Unfortunately its more likely, “Yet another reason Verizon won’t offer another “Nexus” device”

    • LiterofCola

      On there too so I hear…

  • Jdenman03

    What’s the difference between this and the remote diagnostic tool thing I see on my stock razr?

  • http://twitter.com/GregPayne Greg Payne

    VZW doesn’t get to put Remote Access on my phone until I have ICS. If they do, THIS IS WAR!

  • drinksprite

    great, now some perv I don’t know is gonna be accessing and jerkin it to my noodz. they say we must give them permission but we all know they can look into our phones whenever they want. messing with our battery life

    • http://twitter.com/havens1515 Randroid

      Well then maybe you should just skip the middle man and put your noodz out there for everyone to see.

  • VerizonNazis

    HEIL DER FUHRER VERIZON!

  • NorCalGuy

    This is why people run custom roms… this is also why most likely vz would prefer to keep the bootloaders locked, easier to control more phones like this.

  • jldleo

    This may be great for the average consumer but for the dev community this is nothing more than more crapware they will install on our phones.

    • Josh Groff

      Wait, we take OTA updates? Since when.

  • ERIFNOMI

    No thanks…

  • TRDSupra84

    this seems really helpful for people that do not root and whatnot. 

  • Scott Willenborg

    ummmm, no.

  • http://twitter.com/jheyneman James Heyneman

    Hooray! More bloatware!

  • John

     ¯_(ツ)_/¯ 

  • Michael Forte

    I think this is just a tool to see if users are running custom software more than anything…

    • Troll Hunter

      I can imagine the email from them already.  Something like how during a recent network “test” they were unable to activate the remote diagnostics tool on your phone even though you never called them for any help that might require it, and since it is supposed to have it, clearly you must have hacked your phone, so clearly you are tethering without paying for it, so clearly you need to be punished.

      • Josh Groff

         Funniest thing is I don’t have a contract with them, I buy my hardware through swappa/eBay.

    • r0lct

      Customer:  My 4G keeps dropping
      Initiate Tool
      CS Rep: Well Mr Jones, we don’t support AOKP.  Go F yourself.
      Customer:  But it appears to be a problem with the device as others are seeing the same issue who run stock.
      CS Rep: Didn’t you hear me say F off?  After all we pull the plug on the $gs whenever we feel like it, well until Apple tells us to stop.

      • Josh Groff

         At that point, you take a few minutes, revert to stock and then complain. ;)

        • Blootzm3

          just get an apple phone verizon cant control them.