App of the week: App Lock

Uday Mehta/Staff

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Name: App Lock

Platform: Android

Price: Free

Mission: Protect Your Privacy

It’s common practice nowadays that upon obtaining access to your friend’s phone, tablet or laptop, one of the first tasks to accomplish is to post a message on Facebook about how your friend had unsurprisingly changed his or her sexuality. This is commonly followed by an assortment of installing or uninstalling applications, changing the background to one which prominently features your nose and other mischievous things of that nature. But what if you could now trust your friends to not screw with your stuff when you were out of earshot?

App Lock is a really simple app. The main functionality is that it “locks” the screen when you enter certain apps that you specifically designate. It’s not limited to opening apps; it can password-protect operations like answering a call, installing or uninstalling an app and entering the play store. If you’re not a fan of the conventional four-digit code, you can also set it to a pattern. As a fail-safe, there’s a security question and answer, along with a password hint. There are some intuitive settings, such as being able to toggle the locker in the notification bar and set a re-entry time for your locked applications so that you don’t have to keep entering your password for apps you frequently use.

A lot of the unnecessary but slightly cool features are locked up in the premium version, but they’re definitely worth perusing if you’re really sensitive about how protected your phone should be from your “friends.” One of the more hackneyed ones is the ability to change the background of the lock screen. This is probably useful for some of our more creative readers. Something slightly more impressive is the random keyboard, which will switch the digits of your keypad so that people can’t memorize your finger motion by looking over your shoulder. You can also set up different profiles, making it easier to switch between school and work mode, if you’re the type that’s actually going to bother creating different settings for those respective situations. There are also time and location locks that allow you to enable and disable app locking or switch profiles depending upon the time of day or your phone’s location (the latter of which may be a battery-drainer). One of the cooler things is that you can opt to hide the app from the home screen and instead enter a URL in your browser or dial a specific number to indirectly open the app.

Naturally, it (by default) locks itself and will exit the app every time the screen turns off. Even if you don’t need it, it’s probably a good idea to download it and set it up so that some dumb prankster doesn’t download it for you and lock all your apps. In all, it’s simple and powerful without too many dumb features to lead you astray. We’ll generously give it a four-clog stamp of approval.

Contact Uday Mehta at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @mehtakid