It’s important, from time to time, to discuss the delicate yet essential process of protecting your sensitive data. We’ve discussed apps before that are designed to help you do this, but today we’re going to take a look at another entry in that race.
I’ve been exploring mSecure, an app for iPad from the developers at mSevenSoftware, that aims to organize and secure all sorts of sensitive information, whether it’s personal or business related. There are many apps on the market that fill this niche, and even some clear frontrunners. So the question is: is there room for another password manager on the App Store?
In terms of interface, mSecure is strictly utilitarian. The top-level screen in the app is a list of groups, which allows you to keep the data for your personal life (such as credit cards, social media passwords, etc) separate from your business information (account numbers, network logins, for example). Just as everything else in mSecure (as you’ll see) can be edited and customized to fit your needs, so too can these groups. Separate your private data into as broad or as granular sections as you wish.
In the main view, a search bar decks the top of the screen, your list of entries separated by category (assuming you’re in the “All” view) takes up a majority of the screen, and a simple toolbar sits at the bottom.
The Preferences menu, and a few other various menus present themselves via pop-panes like the one above. The interface is simple, but nothing spectacularly designed. There are a few options available in the preferences menu that can help alleviate some of the visual monotony, such as theme (which changes the colors of the toolbars) and fonts.
One last note on the interface: I found there to be various functional redundancies within mSecure. For example, in the screenshot above, a search can be conducted by either tapping in the search bar, or by tapping the search button at the bottom (which moves your cursor to the search bar). I’d like to see these remedied in future versions of the app to streamline the interface and performance.
So, as a form-as-much-as-function kind of guy, the interface isn’t as honey-dipped as I would like to see. That being said, I can’t say very many negative things at all about mSecure’s functionality.
The entries that you create to house your sensitive data are impressively flexible. Each entry can be assigned to a group and given an icon from a set of preloaded graphics. There are seventeen preset templates, along with the ability to create unlimited customizable data fields, which make mSecure one of the most versatile apps of it’s kind.
As with most apps of it’s type, mSecure allows you to set a master password to keep all of your sensitive information secured. Until you do this, certain features like auto-lock will be disabled. The app makes this process easier (and, in an appropriate fashion, more secure) by offering to generate a password based on chosen parameters.
One particularly unique security feature is the self-destruct option. This will wipe out all of your password entries after a certain number of failed attempts to unlock the app.
Because mSecure is available on several different platforms, it includes a sync feature that is powered by Dropbox (and they assure me that iCloud is coming soon). As an avid Dropbox user, I found this to be among the most satisfactory of the app’s features. However, while the tap of a sync button is simple, background syncing would be better (and perhaps this is a feature that will be added with iCloud integration).
So how does mSecure stack up against the other front runners in its niche? Well I think it is safe to say that its prime competitors are the oft-discussed 1Password and, my personal favorite, Wallet. And I’ve already addressed how mSecure doesn’t show the kind style and grace that those other apps exhibit. However, in terms of pure utility, mSecure is a solid app.
The only place that I can determine that mSecure’s functionality falls short is in the way that it handles using your credentials to log in to a webpage. Wallet has the ability to launch a secure webpage within the app and use your credentials to log in, and 1Password simply switches to Safari and fills in your information, but mSecure requires you to copy your password (and email/username if necessary) to the clipboard to be pasted into a Safari page.
Obviously, the ideal solution would be to allow extensions in mobile Safari, but we can’t blame these developers for that. Unfortunately, mSecure’s work-around seems to be the least elegant of the three.
I think it’s probably clear by now, but in the spirit of being ernest: for design and utility, I would take Wallet or 1Password over mSecure. I don’t think that it is a bad app, I just find the competition to be more refined. However, at $9.99, mSecure is near the bottom of the price scale for similar apps, and I will give it credit for being very flexible.
What is your password manager of choice?