The security of a smartphone is something that should be taken very seriously. Android OS does allow users to add a passcode lock to the lock screen, but many users find it very inconvenient and would rather risk their data getting into the wrong hands than enter the PIN or pattern lock every time. Majority of us use email and other messaging apps on our mobile devices, which contain sensitive data that we wouldn’t want others to access. What if you could just password protect specific apps such as Gallery, Messages, etc? The Google Play Store has some decent tools that password protect specific apps so you don’t have to lock the entire device. Past the break, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best apps from this genre.
As the name suggests, AppLock gives users the ability to password protect any or all Android apps on their devices. Once installed, the app requires you to set up a passcode lock as well as a recovery email address for itself, after which it shows all the apps installed on your Android device. You can use pattern lock for apps and customize the authentication screen with a background of your choice and downloadable themes from the Play Store.
Additionally, you can prevent other users from taking incoming calls or installing/uninstalling apps, accessing settings, Google Play store and task manager.
The applications comes with premium features such as Photo Vault, Video Vault, themes, lock switch, etc. These features are not available in the basic version, but users can enjoy them for free if they opt for the ad-enabled version. If ads don’t bother you, just select “Upgrade to Premium” from the menu and select the ad-enabled version. Removing the ads requires users to sign up for a subscription that costs $0.9 per month or $3 per year.
Unlike AppLock, Smart App Protector comes with some extra features, with the most prominent being the Observer mode, which monitors unlocking of the apps and upon failed attempts, captures a snapshot of the intruder with the front-facing camera.
Other features include multiple unlocking methods (passcode, pattern lock and gestures), remote control and customizable themes. The remote control feature allows users to lock or unlock the device using an SMS, but the feature seems to be kind of buggy, and didn’t work properly during our testing. Everything else worked like a charm, though.
The application is free of cost, but comes with advertisements. If you find them annoying, you can purchase the ad-free version for $2.73 or subscribe for a yearly payment of $1.79. The premium version also brings complete update support and removes advertisements from the application.
This tool comes with additional useful features, one of which is a ‘Stealth Mode’ that hides the app itself from the launcher. Like most other similar apps, it also features anti-force removal; it adds itself to Device Administrators to prevent users from deleting it.
Other features include a fake fingerprint scanner, fake error pop-ups, screen filter and rotation lock. The fake fingerprint scanner screen acts as a dummy to protect the actual unlock screen. After you scan your finger, simply close the screen and re-launch the app to see the PIN lock screen. The fake pop-up feature shows dummy error messages whenever a user tries to open a locked app. The remaining two features are just to prevent rotation lock and adjust brightness levels for locked apps.
The app has a paid version as well, which is ad-free and brings a few new features to the app for $1.29.
This app is slightly different from the ones above. Visidon Applock uses facial recognition technology to secure apps. Before you enable the locking service, it requires users to set up an alternative password that can be used to unlock the apps if facial recognition fails. During our testing, however, the app recognized the registered face on the first try.
It’s better to have the app scan your face at least four or five times from different angles to make sure it can recognize you on the first try. The app can also be added to Device Administrators from settings to prevent unauthorized deletion.
Visidon Applock also has a paid version, which is ad-free and comes with additional features such as multiple locking methods (PIN and Pattern), experimental lock screen feature and more.
In addition to apps, Smart Lock also gives users the ability to protect specific media files and folders as well as contacts.
The application shows three tabs: Apps, Media and Contacts. The Apps tab lists all the locked applications while the Media tab will show you all the images, videos and music on your device. The Contacts feature is not yet available, but the developer says it will be released soon.
Additionally, Smart Lock automatically adds itself to Device Administrators to prevent anyone from uninstalling it while it’s locked. To uninstall, you must turn off app lock and remove it from Device Administrators from within the settings screen.
The app supports ads, but users can get rid of them by purchasing the ad-free full version.