The internet has been abuzz recently with the news of hacked servers, stolen passwords and security scares. We’re constantly reminded that our ‘stuff’ on the internet isn’t as secure, or as safe, as perhaps we’d like it to be and that the best way to keep it secure is to have a super strong password.
The trouble with super strong passwords is that they’re hard to remember. Which means you have to write them down somewhere. Which kind of defeats the point.
Oh, and your super strong password should be unique to each site and you should change it regularly.
1Password Pro from AgileBits is here to try to solve all of your password-related problems. Available for Mac, iPhone, iPad and now Windows as well, this is one application that no computer user should be without. The idea behind it is to keep all of your super strong passwords kept safely behind one master password (hence the name). But does this really make you safer online?
We’re going to take a look at the iPad version of 1Password to see how easy it is to use, if it really can make password management easier and if it’s worth your money.
1Password Pro for iPad is a universal app, meaning it will also run on your iPhone and iPod touch as well. Clearly this makes it pretty good value, even at its relatively high £7.99 price point, since the iPhone only version is £6.99. If you are already a 1Password for Mac or Windows user, this is a no-brainer, as the app supports cloud syncing over Dropbox.
I have heard people raise concerns about the safety of having all of your important username and password data kept in one place. Having spent a fair amount of time trawling through the 1Password technical documentation, I’m convinced that the guys at AgileBits have really done their homework. Passwords are encrypted with technology that effectively means it would take “all of the computers on the planet, working in tandem for many times longer than the age of the universe”. That’s good enough for me.
But 1Password for iPad has a lot more to offer than simply a secure place to store your passwords. The app actually has a built-in web browser which effectively lets you use the app as a secure bookmark manager and form-filler as well, making it easier than ever to log into password protected websites.
In addition, you can store network passwords, FTP account and server details in the Logins section, credit card details, drivers licence, passport details and membership numbers in the Wallet section. There’s even a section for secure notes and another for software licence codes.
However, the standout feature of 1Password for iPad is Dropbox sync. Without it, keeping multiple versions of your passwords in sync would just be too difficult for most people. However, if Dropbox isn’t your thing, you can do regular WiFi sync with the desktop version.
If you have more than one iOS device, this can quickly become cumbersome.
When the iPad was first announced, AgileBits were one of the first to show their hands and publicly state that they were producing an iPad version of 1Password. They even shared some UI mockups. The user interface of 1Password Pro feels well considered, easy to use and on top of that, it looks good as well.
Launching the app, you are greeted with the entrance to a vault and a place to type your master password. Animations between sections are smooth but not distracting, and finding what you want inside the app is easy thanks to the search box and the alphabetical index list.
Adding new login details is easy enough, you are presented with a list of fields, most of which are optional, or you can create your own custom fields for things like a PIN number or secret question answer if needed. However, bulk-adding usernames and passwords using just the iPad app is a bit cumbersome, and time consuming, since there’s no way for the app to ‘grab’ username and password details from Mobile Safari as you browse the web.
One missing feature that I’d like to see added from the desktop and iPhone version of the app is the strong password generator, and it (looks like I’m not alone). This would make it much easier to use as a standalone app, without relying on the desktop version.
If you use the desktop version of 1Password, the iPad version just makes sense. However, if you are new to 1Password, there’s quite a bit of initial set up work needed to get the most from the app. The easiest way to do the set up work is on the desktop app which will ‘harvest’ your login details as you use them.
There’s no doubt, however, that using 1Password to manage your passwords and other personal information will increase your online security. No more passwords written on post-it notes on your desk or in the back of your diary. No more setting the same password for every online account that you have and no more increasing the number on the end of your password by one each time you change it.
1Password’s super-tough encryption and easy to use interface mean you’ll soon be trusting it to remember everything for you. Just make sure that your one password isn’t easy to break!
To sum up, 1Password is one of the most commonly used apps on my iPad. In fact, I even prefer using the iPad version over the desktop version, mainly due to the in-app browser and the speed at which you can find the login details that you are looking for. I’d recommend it to everyone who owns an iPad, but if you’re already using it on your desktop computer or laptop, then 1Password Pro is a must-have.