Tap That App
Three apps to secure your 'droidApp malware is a growing problem for smartphones, but there's more to keeping your Android safe than scanning for bad apps. Check out how these three apps from Lookout, AVG, and Trend Micro make your Android battle-ready.
Welcome to Tap That App, I'm Seth Rosenblatt and this is the show where we show off some of the hottest mobile apps around. I've got three top-notch Android security apps for you to check out, each with different strengths. First off we're checking out the free Lookout, which has gained a lot of popularity and media attention thanks to its lost phone location service. If your phone gets lost or stolen, you can jump onto Lookout's Web site and, assuming your phone is on, and has battery life and the GPS enabled, you can track your phone's location. This is a must- have feature for phones. The service has been used by police to track stolen phones. You can also fire off a car alarm-style "scream" from your missing phone, to let you know where it is or to annoy whomever's stolen it. Lookout also offers contacts backup, and adds photo backup when you upgrade to the Premium version for about $30 a year. Lookout's main feature, though, is its scanning technology. The company is working on something it calls the App Genome Project, which verifies as safe thousands of apps across multiple marketplaces, and checks your apps as you download them. Windows security powerhouse AVG recently bought its way into the Android marketplace by picking up Israeli firm DroidSecurity. The app does many of the same things that Lookout does, and it has more features in the free version than Lookout. The free AVG Antivirus for Android has a password-protected app locker, and lost phone locator, too. It's not as polished as Lookout's, though. In fact, the app's entire interface isn't as polished as Lookout's, with a main screen that's too simple--where are the rest of the options? Still, AVG Antivirus's backup is more robust in the free version than Lookout's, with contacts, SMS, system settings and app settings, although even the paid upgrade doesn't offer photo backup. Its premium version is a lot cheaper, though, at $10 for a year. Trend Micro's Mobile Security app take a completely different approach. Along with the scan, the company has ported its Smart Protection Network for guarding against phishing attacks to Android. It only works in the default browser for now, but that's a start. There's no phone locator service, although there are parental controls and call and text message blocking. For those, you can use a whitelist or a blacklist. Trend Micro's app isn't free, instead coming with a 30-day trial after which you'll have to shell out $4 to get protected. They're all recommended, although Lookout does the best job at the moment of offering a strong combo of usability, features, and protection. That's it for this week's show, and if you've got any suggestions bang em on over to TapThatApp At CNET dot com. I'm Seth Rosenblatt and we'll see you next week.