The one issue at the top of most mobile users' minds should be security. We carry around so much precious data, and when it's lost, trouble often ensues. To that end, Android developers are always searching for new and improved methods to help give your ever-growing mobile world even more ways to secure that data.
There are instances when security can come in the simplest forms, such as keeping prying eyes out of certain apps. You might hand your phone over to someone so they can make a call or look at a picture. If you turn your back, that user could always dig into your data. Fortunately, there are ways to keep certain applications readily available while others are locked down. One such method is a third-party app called AppLock.
With AppLock, you can create a specific PIN (or an app-specific PIN) that can then be used to lock down whatever applications you wish to secure. It's incredibly simple to use. Here are some AppLock features:
- Lock any app
- Re-lock policy
- Multi-lock feature (Pro version only): Add different locks to different apps
- Auto-lock base on Time or Wi-Fi (Pro version only)
- Disguise feature (Pro version only)
- Theme support
- Widget for quick lock and unlock
- Quick lock switcher on status bar
- Lock Android installer
- Lock incoming or outgoing calls
- Lock access to phone
- Prevent AppLock uninstallation
- Auto restart (to prevent app from being killed by task killers)
Let's walk through the process of installation and using this handy Android security application.
The installation of AppLock is simple. Just follow these steps:
- Open the Google Play Store
- Search for “applock” (no quotes)
- Locate and tap the app titled AppLock (Hi App Lock)
- Tap Install
- Tap Accept
Once the installation has completed, locate the AppLock launcher in your app drawer and tap to launch.
When you first launch AppLock, you'll have to set up your unlock password (Figure A). Enter a password that's at least four digits, and tap OK. You'll then be required to re-enter the same password, and tap OK.
AppLock running on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy S4.
After you've confirmed your locking password, you'll find yourself on the Main Lock tab (Figure B). This is where you select apps you want to lock with the newly created password.
Lock as many applications as you like from this window.
To lock an app, simply locate the app in the Main Lock tab, and then tap the lock icon associated with that particular app. Once they're added, those apps will require the locking password in order to open. You can also set up a relock policy, which dictates how often you must enter the locking password in order to open an app. The relock policy can be:
- Every time (the app is opened)
- Until screen off
- 1 Minute
- 5 minutes
- 10 minutes
To set this relock policy, tap on the Setting tab, and then tap Relock Policy. In the popup (Figure C), tap to select the policy you want to use.
Every time is the most secure and every 10 minutes is the least secure.
After a lock is set, you can also rename the lock and even change the password. To rename the lock, follow these steps:
- Open AppLock
- Tap on the Tool tab
- Tap on Lock 1
- Enter the locking password
- Tap on the Config tab
- Tap Set Lock name (Figure D)
- Enter the new name, and tap OK
Renaming a lock in AppLock.
If you want to set up multiple locks, you'll need to purchase the Pro version, which costs $1.93 (USD) and can be found within the app's settings. With the Pro version, you can lock apps for business, home, and the public with different locks.
If you're looking for yet another level of security for your Android mobile, let AppLock help you out. This is an incredibly easy way to keep prying eyes out of app-specific data. It's free (the Pro version is very inexpensive) and does an outstanding job of locking down whatever apps you want.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.