Features & Use
The Android app "Seal" lets you set a password in order to launch certain apps if you so desire. This is a good way of ensuring that certain programmes cannot be accessed without permission, though widgets can’t be protected. During our test run of this app we found that the protection of widgets of protected apps isn’t foolproof.
Every app can benefit from password security, including phone & co.
In the Android system almost every function is an app, meaning that Seal can ‘protect’ most functions. The big advantage here is that your phone’s settings can also be protected from unwanted access; this includes the SMS menu.
A word of caution: going wild and protecting anything and everything you can think of may not work to your advantage in certain situations. The worst case scenario here being that remembering passwords in situations in which you’re seriously under pressure or possibly even in danger is easier said than done. What if you need to phone for an ambulance urgently?
Seal’s biggest drawback is also its best feature: the fact that you could, theoretically, protect all of your phone’s programmes and apps. Whether this actually is a drawback will depend on what type of user you are. Users will typically lock their entire phone in order to protect it—but this can prove to be a bit of a hassle, unless you enjoy having to unlock your phone for every little thing.
Whilst testing this app I kept thinking to myself, hmm, why do I even bother locking my phone? I came to the conclusion that the people to whom one really wants to deny access are those one knows, as opposed to those one doesn't (i.e. thieves).
I really appreciate having the option to no longer have to lock the entire phone, but instead being able to select which programmes and apps are part of the restricted zone.
This means that you can selectively decide which functions should remain accessible without having to enter a password. There’s also an option that allows you to make settings for different 'situations', so that your phone will display a different profile when you’re at home than when you’re at the office.
Seal is a great app for anyone who is looking to protect some of their personal data, but simultaneously wants to avoid having to enter a code every time they use their phone. That being said, please do keep in mind that data is accessible via widgets. Emails that haven’t yet been read are safe, but read mail can be accessed.
Seal did occasionally get on my nerves, for instance when I’d just unlocked an app and it would then still require me to enter the password again so that it could access certain phone settings. Admittedly, this only happened once, but it lead me to thinking that I certainly wouldn’t be too pleased if it was to become a regular occurrence.
Screen & Controls
"Seal"’s UI is nice and clean and using the controls is quite intuitive. Switching Seal on and off is quick and easy thanks to the status bar; the drawbacks listed above can actually be prevented by taking advantage of this function.
Passwords can consist of characters or numbers (or better yet: a mixture of both) or else the popular Android pattern.
Speed & Stability
Seal’s performance was good overall. The app didn’t crash at all during the testing phase.
"Seal" can be downloaded for EUR 2,49 from the Android Market or AndroidPIT App Center. A pretty penny…