Passwords are a giant pain in the behind (pardon my language). First and foremost, passwords need need to be secure, and in order for them to be secure they have to be a long string of letters (random mix of uppercase and lowercase), numbers and symbols (for good measure). When you create a strong password they’re nearly impossible to remember, the theory being that if you can’t remember it how will anyone trying to hack your account crack the barrage of characters you created.
So, when you create these 15+ character passwords, how are you to keep track of them? There are certainly a number of options available (I know some opt for a good old-fashioned spreadsheet), but if you want a secure, user friendly experience 1Password has been to the go-to choice for quite some time. In December 2012, AgileBit released version 4 of 1Password, which includes an impressive list of new features. Hit the jump to take a peek at what the new 1Password has to offer.
Beautiful & Functional
For those of you updating from the previous version of 1Password, the first thing you’ll notice in version 4 is the all-new design. Compared to other password management iOS apps (e.g. mSecure, LastPass, SecureSafe) 1Password has always featured a more pleasant design, but the new interface puts the app on a whole new level. The splash screen still features the iconic lock design, but the app as a whole has ditched the skeuomorphic vault design in favor of simple backgrounds, and textured headers and navigation bars.
The side navigation bar has received a fairly substantial overhaul, folding many of the previous options (Logins, Accounts, Notes, Software, Wallet) into a new Categories section. Additionally, two new sections have been added — Favorites and Folders. Favorites, as the name implies, is a feature that allows you to quickly access your most commonly used logins, notes, cards, etc. If you don’t fancy scrolling through a huge list of logins, Folders is a great feature that allows you to sort your items in the manner of your choosing.
Another nifty feature that you can utilize in the Categories section is Global Search. When you select a category (e.g. Logins, Secure Notes) a search bar is displayed at the top of the list. As you begin typing, the results will autocomplete. To make the most of this feature, I found it best to use it in the All Items category, which will display results from every item you’ve entered into 1Password.
A Better Browser
One area of 1Password that’s also improved greatly is the in-app browser. Those familiar with the previous browser know it offered very little for users; luckily, the new browser brings some much needed features including tabbed browsing, a URL omnibar (good for entering a direct address or search queries) and form filling options (easily enter login, credit card or personal information while using the browser).
The Bottom Line
To call version 4 of 1Password an improvement is putting it mildly. While it may be shallow of me to put so much stock in an app’s, the new interface simply sells the whole experience. To me, there’s simply nothing more enjoyable as an iPad user as when an app development team creates the perfect blend of design and functionality. Dollars to donuts, version 4 of 1Password could easily be the poster child of great design and great functionality.
In addition to the redesign, the list of some really great additions in form of Favorites and Folders, an approved web browser, global search, action bar (which allows you to swipe across an item to copy, favorite, open in the browser or delete), and iCloud sync (Dropbox sync is still available), all adds up to a truly great app. Even better, a purchase is good towards a universal version of the app (making it available on all your iOS devices for one low cost).
If you’re serious about changing your password habits, I simply cannot recommend 1Password enough. Like most people, I too fell prey to using a handful of the same passwords for all of my accounts. Practicing such unsafe habits it bad enough, but the real problem I always had was forgetting passwords for sites I rarely visited. After trying multiple login attempts, I’d often succumb to accessing the Forget My Password feature, bringing about a truly inconvenient experience. Since I began using 1Password, such issues have never reared their ugly head again.