For some users, locking apps and photos is a necessity. This is especially true when you're dealing with sensitive company data. But with so many different app lockers out there, it's often hard to know which one to use. Let's make that choice easy. If you want simple app/photo vault locking and would like a glimpse of Android's material design (before you actually get the Lollipop upgrade), your best bet is LOCX. This app locker features:
- Lock individual apps instead of the entire phone
- Customized lock screens (pattern or PIN) and wallpapers
- Hide and encrypt your photos and videos
- Apply themes
- Disguise your lock screen
- Delay re-lock
- Quick lock/unlock widget
- Prevent LOCX from being uninstalled
LOCX is free and available from the Google Play Store. Let's install and get up to speed on this handy security app.
Installing LOCX is quite simple. Just follow these steps:
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
- Search for LOCX
- Locate and tap the entry by LOCX Inc.
- Tap Install
- Read the permissions listing
- If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept
- Allow the installation to complete
You'll find the LOCX launcher on your home screen or your app drawer (or both). Tap the launcher to open the application.
When you first open LOCX, you must create an unlock pattern (Figure A) to be used to open the app. Draw the pattern, and then confirm said pattern by drawing it a second time.
LOCX running on a Verizon-Branded LG G3.
Once you've successfully created your locking pattern, you'll be presented with the main window (Figure B). From here, you should notice the influence of material design.
The LOCX main window.
If you swipe right, from the left edge of the window, you'll reveal the LOCX sidebar (Figure C).
The LOCX sidebar.
From the sidebar, you can switch between App Lock and Photo Vault. By default, LOCX doesn't simply lock down all of the photos on your device. Instead, what you do is add photos from your device to the vault. Simply follow these steps:
- Open the sidebar
- Tap Photo Vault
- Tap the plus sign [+] (Figure D)
- Locate and tap the photo to be added
- To add more than one photo at a time, long-press one of the photos and then tap to select all the photos. When you've selected all the photos to be included, tap the right-pointing arrow at the top right of the window (Figure E).
Selecting multiple photos to be added to the vault.
Once photos are added to the Photo Vault, they can't be viewed within the Gallery app.
One of the main features of LOCX is the app locker. This allows you to set up a PIN or pattern to block access to specific apps. Adding a lock to an app is simple. Here's how:
- Open the sidebar and select App Lock
- Locate the app you want to lock
- Tap the app to be locked (Figure F)
- Locate the next app
- Tap to lock
- Repeat until you have all necessary apps locked
All apps will be locked with the same PIN or pattern. If you want to switch from pattern (default) to PIN, do the following:
- Open the sidebar
- Tap Settings
- Tap Lock mode
- Select the desired mode
If you switch modes, you'll have to set the new PIN or pattern (and confirm). Even if you go back and forth between modes, each time you'll have to set a new PIN or pattern.
From within the Settings window, you can also enable the Delay to lock feature. When enabled, you won't have to confirm your security PIN or pattern when returning to the app from a brief exit. Once enabled, you can set the desired delay time (default is 5 seconds). The Delay to lock feature doe not apply to the LOCX app itself — only the apps set to lock.
There is another feature of LOCX that bears examination. This feature is called Chameleon. Open it from the sidebar, and you'll see a somewhat strange description of the feature (the developers might want to hire someone to improve this... hint hint).
Select one of the Chameleon methods (such as the Fingerprint scanner) and walk through the setup wizard for that feature. Here's what it does: When you apply a Chameleon disguise, that disguise will be the first thing to appear when a locked app is open (Figure G).
A LOCX Chameleon in action.
The Chameleon actually does nothing — it just serves as a disguise. Should someone try to open a locked app and see a fingerprint scanner, chances are they might stop right where they are. The thing is, all you have to do is double-tap the fingerprint, and you'll be greeted with the PIN or pattern screen. It's a simple deterrent that may or may not work.
If you're looking for one of the best app lockers on the market — one that is simple to use and also offers a bit of material design inspiration — look no further than LOCX.
Do you employ app lockers as your last bastion security to keep prying eyes out of sensitive mobile data? If not, what's your go-to mobile security? Let us know in the discussion thread below.
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.