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Your passwords are your essential to living online and you take their security seriously. But there are so many of them and it's hard to keep track of killer, hard-to-crack passwords. After all, no "password123" for you. With hundreds of password keepers in the App Store, we took a look at the top-rated kings of the encryption to see what we could see. Four stars or higher from 80 or more ratings on universal apps need only apply.
Not to reduce this to just numbers, but with 2384 ratings averaging out to five stars, you just have to know that Ilium Software, Inc.'s eWallet is doing something right. This universal app fires up in your wallet with two sample fields ready to go to demonstrate how you set things up. The idea itself is simple: An encrypted list of all your email passwords, logins, credit card numbers, accounts, and every other electronic ID you can imagine.
Why list your passwords without a password?
The developers have opted for maximum flexibility by letting you build just about any kind of entry for your accounts. This has the end result of being incredibly customizable -- but also sometimes frustratingly labyrinthine.
Consider the process of creating a new card from scratch (not duplicating one of the pre-built templates we mean). The steps are: Tap the + from the My Wallet page, then tap the New Category button, tap the New Category link, tap the X at the end of the field, type in your new category name, tap Save. You don't have to personalize the category icon but it helps. Tap the General Category link and this one you'll want to choose from because the fields of data you need to enter are different if you're entering driver's license data than if you're going to log what your contact lens prescriptions are. Having chosen from the list, then you tap Create.
Sixteen steps later.
This creates a Category under which you can add subcategories (but that's merely hierarchy not function) and you are now back at the wallet. Tap the category you just created, then tap the + on this blank screen to be given the choice of creating a new subcategory or a new card.
Let's get categorical here.
A card is where at last you will begin to actually add data. If you still want to by this point. Set up is time-consuming and labor intensive but it isn't hard in any sense other than that. And eWallet is, as we said, remarkably adaptable. So if you don't care for any of the pre built types of cards then you can create your own and construct it down to every field you want.
eWallet Cards are nice but not essential
Your data, when entered, is displayed on cards (which naturally you can customize), and, most importantly, synced. This involves a desktop version of eWallet, though this is a pay for software which you only get 30 days of free use out of. It may be of value to take the 30 day trial just to get set up, though we'd like a few more options for syncing than that.
mSecure is similarly named to eWallet, and operates along roughly similar principles. Tap the + at the top to create a type of record. Similarly to eWallet we see a variety of kinds such as Birthdays, Clothes Sizes, Frequent Flyer accounts, Vehicle Info and more, though the former has nearly twice as many categories. The developer has taken a few taps out of the process as choosing a category bounces you right back to the Item page with fields custom made for the type.
A little more easy to get things into this
This app wins the icon wars, as you can customize your category with over 100 icons (including familiar sites such as Facebook and flickr) while eWallet gives your 45 options. This may seem a small point but there are times eWallet's palette is insufficient. Having created an item, you now choose a Group to assign it to. The steps are considerably shorter than in eWallet's making set up a bit easier.
Categories that might seem familiar
mSecure also scores what you may consider a great convenience or a security threat in allowing you to sync your data to not only your own computer but also to Dropbox. mSecure requires a twelve character password to encrypt the backup you've just synced, though, so you can feel that extra layer of security.
Our favorite feature, hands down
Tap the lowercase i in the main screen to be taken to the Preferences screen where you can delve a little deeper into managing your app and your data. Here you'll want to set up a master password for the app itself (no sense creating a list of passwords and not keep it under lock and key). You can also set the app to lock immediately or in one minute increments up to five. This is for once your phone has slept. The self-destruct options allows you to pick 5, 10, or 20 attempts at the master password before it deletes all the data on the phone. If you choose this option, do NOT try using mSecure after a night filled with margaritas.
Don't play Mission Impossible after mai tais.
From here you can also add to the Groups or Types, customizing them down to what fields are added. Sync settings are here as well options for backups and restores. A nice feature setting buried down here is the Auto-Copy. This allows you to auto copy the Username and Password for sites so that when you tap on a link from the app you needn't enter that data upon arriving at the site. Fonts and theme colors can also be added for a nice personalized touch.
Ascendo Inc.'s DataVault has one trick right out of the gate the other two developers should learn from -- that is, it forces you to set a master password as step number one, right out the gate, no ifs, ands or buts. Then as if daring you to question its security credentials, the moment you've created a password, DataVault makes you re-enter it to prove you're really the same you were one second ago. Whew, that's some tight lockdown.
Right out of the gate security, which is nice
Having made it inside the holy of holies, DataVault has gone the step of already creating a list for you of possible places you might have information stored. While the other two apps start you out sparse, DataVault has a population that spans so far down you have to scroll. Under the three broad Categories of Business, Personal, and Unfiled, DataVault has fifteen Type subcategories under that including Driver License, Frequent Flyer, Email accounts, Checking accounts, and more.
Customize those accounts! Do it!
There's a + button at the bottom of the screen in case DataVault hasn't done enough work for you already. Tap that and you'll be taken to the Item Details screen. From here you can name it, choose its icon, decide if it is a Category level or Type level item. For each item you can add new values and memos of information. Like the new Item you created? Duplicate it for the next set of data to enter or turn it into a Template, ready at a moment's notice.
Takes the work right out of set up
DataVault generates just a page of the data, more like mSecure's presentation than eWallet's and provides you with endless possibilities of customization as well. From the DataVault list screen, there are also customizations possible such as opting to use a list format stripped down to just your created items or a nested tree with categorical hierarchies.
List or tree, it's up to thee
Tapping into the Options page through the wrench and screwdriver icon up top plugs you in to the backend of even more functional possibilities. Here's where you'll find seven kinds of synchronization available such as using Wi-Fi, sharing through iTunes, or uploading to Dropbox. You can also back up your data to your device itself (and restore from said backups) as well as create new Categories, Types, and Templates. Set a limit on number of log-in attempts and when the app will auto-lock if left unattended or while multitasking -- you can even get an email notification if someone tries and fails three times to enter the correct password.
This is a pretty tight group of competitors. They've all been highly ranked, they've all gotten quite a number of ratings, they all run for the same amount of money, and they're all universal (though none of them really take advantage of that). You're not going to go wrong with any of these apps as far as security goes, as they all offer 256-bit encryption. For ease of use, we feel the palm should go to to mSecure who also gave us one leg up on our Dropbox syncing by including another layer of password protection to encrypt that. eWallet takes the cake for its endless customizability which DataVault emulated but never quite fully. None of the apps were really very pretty from a design perspective feeling more like PC software than Apple-related, but we're not looking for a pretty face when we want security. We're looking for a bruiser.