Not everyone likes to have a master password, PIN or pattern lock applied to their smartphones at all times. It becomes quite tiresome if a friend is playing around with your Android phone, and you have to enter the unlock code every time the screen times out. Then again, you might not want your SMS threads, gallery, Market, email and social networking apps unprotected while one of your mischievous friends is, as he/she says, playing Fruit Ninja on your phone. It is in such situations that apps like APP Lock for Android come in handy.
The app lets you lock individual user and system apps with a PIN or pattern of your choice. The concept isn’t new to Android at all. A much older app with the same name (App Lock – App Protector) and previously reviewed Visidon AppLock are based on the same functionality. In fact, the latter even provides the option to set a face recognition lock for individual apps. However, when it comes to looks and simplicity, APP Lock races ahead of the two aforementioned (and most other) alternatives. If you’re setting an authentication screen to appear every time you launch a particular app, you’d probably prefer if it were easy on the eyes. That’s not all; the app even lets you PIN/pattern protect incoming calls.
When you launch the app for the first time, it automatically presents you with the PIN protection setup screen, followed by a screen that lets you specify a security question and answer for password retrieval and a hint for the PIN you entered in the previous screen.
Once your done with that, the app takes you to its homescreen, where you’ll find all system and user apps listed under the Application Lock tab. The System Lock tab lists system actions and apps that, when locked, will prevent new apps from being installed and existing apps from being uninstalled or reset. Locking the Market, Install/Uninstall and Application Manage (uninstall, force-close, clear app data) options are essential to protect APP Lock itself being uninstalled or reset from within the Market, system settings or even a third-party app manager.
You’ll find the aforementioned option to lock incoming calls under this tab as well. Enabling said option displays the PIN/pattern authentication screen every time a call is received.
The bar at the bottom of the app’s homescreen contains options to lock all apps/actions under the current tab, change the Unlock Setting (set PIN & pattern, switch between them), and the security question for password retrieval.
The app’s settings screen allows you to set the app to lock all selected apps every time you wake your device from idle state, and launch its lock service automatically every time the device boots up. The Allow short exit option here lets you keep apps unlocked for a specified amount of time after they are exited, so that you don’t have to enter the PIN/pattern over and over again while switching between apps.
If you happen to forget your unlock pattern but remember the PIN, simply launch APP Lock and select Change to number lock. If you can’t remember the PIN either, tap the Retrieve password option at the bottom of the PIN authentication screen and enter the answer to the security question that you set previously.
Note: If, by chance, you find your memory void of everything related to the app (courtesy of, say, a Falcon Punch to the head), and you have the Application Manage, Install/Uninstall and Market options locked, you won’t be able to delete the app by conventional means. You’ll have to have root access on your device, and a root-level file explorer already installed on your Android device. If you don’t have the latter, or if it too is locked by APP Lock, you can use a root-level desktop file explorer for Android to delete APP Lock or its data from the system.
APP Lock is available for free on the Android Market. The link and QR code provided below will take you to its Market page.