It only takes one epic disaster to make you take password security seriously, so why not get out ahead of that calamity? A password manager can generate complex passwords and plug them in whenever you need them, making it nearly impossible for someone to crack your accounts. There are a number of excellent password management services out there, and many of them have solid Android integration. Whether you want your data manged for you in the cloud, or you want a safe and secure database file on your phone, there are options.
We’re going to go over the best password manages on Android so you can make the safe choice that’s right for you.
This is a very high-quality service that has won the hearts of many users. 1Password comes in the form of desktop apps, browser extensions, and mobile apps. New sites and passwords can be added with the desktop program, or more easily with the browser extension. It can also be used to generate complex passwords that no one will crack.
1Password cleverly integrates with Dropbox for keeping your encrypted password file synced. This means you’ll have to have Dropbox on your computer, but there are no worries about cloud security. Just choose to put the 1Password file in your root Dropbox directory, and the 1Password app should find it no problem.
The 1Password Android app is read-only, meaning you can’t add new passwords from there, but that’s not a huge issue. On start up, the app will ask if you’ve got the password file on the SD card, or in Dropbox. If you have it in Dropbox, you can sign in and 1Password uses the Dropbox API to log in, and find your database in a snap.
Once the file is loaded, you will have to enter your 1Password password to unlock it. Indeed, you have to do this every time you open the app. Your main page is the Logins list. You can sort these by title or domain, or just search. Clicking through to the login of interest displays a page with the URL, user name, and password. If you just need to grab the username or password, long-press on the password field to automatically copy it to the clipboard. For maximum security, hit the Autologin button and the site will load in the integrated browser and log itself in.
The UI in 1Password is very well-designed, but still serious about security. Users can even add an additional PIN lock to the app. We like that is has full support for the program’s other capabilities like software license management, form filling, and secure notes. But for managing passwords, it’s truly great. There is a 30 day trial of the 1Password service, but after that it’s a one-time license fee of $50.
This password management solution takes a fundamentally different approach to handling your passwords, but on the user side it feels much the same. Users can still add their login details with a desktop app or the excellent browser extensions. The difference is that all the LastPass data is stored in an encrypted directory on the LastPass servers. While some may be concerned about not having control of their data, it affords the user some new options and means less time spent keeping track of a local file.
The LastPass app is more minimalist than the 1Password offering. When you log in, the app opens a scrollable list of all the sites organized by URL. There’s no sort control, but a search box is persistent at the top of the app. If you tap on any site, the app will boot you into the integrated browser and log in. Long-pressing on each entry offers options like copying the URL, user name, or password.
We also really, really love that there is an option in the long-press menu to add copy notifications. If you need to paste in the user name and password both, the app places a notification for each in the status bar. Just slide it down and tap one to copy the text, then do the other. No bouncing back and forth between apps. LastPass also allows editing of login details, as well as adding new details complete with complex auto-generated passwords. This is possible because the app is connected to the same LastPass servers where all your data is.
By default, LastPass won’t lock itself every time you leave it, but only when it is closed, or you log out. A PIN lock can be added in the settings to fix that. LastPass also has form fills, and secure notes like 1Password. The cloud storage is handy, but there is cause for concern. There was a data breach at LastPass several months ago. While it seems that no user passwords were compromised, it’s still a little worrisome.
LastPass is free for use on the desktop, but if you want mobile access, you need a premium subscription for $1 per month. LastPass will allow a 14 day trial on a single phone. This service gets our approval.
If you have more of a “do-it-yourself” ethos, perhaps KeePass is up your alley. KeePass is a free and open source password vault that you can install on your desktop, or access via a third-party browser extension. It does all the usual stuff, like generating complex passwords. Like 1Password, this application creates an encrypted database file that you will need access to. However, it doesn’t hold your hand through the process at all. The software is not the most intuitive, and if you want the passwords on your mobile device, you have to manually add it to Dropbox.
There are a few KeePass compatible apps, but the most popular is KeePassDroid. In this app, you will first need to locate your database file. We used Dropbox to get it on the phone, and keep it safe in the cloud. Unfortunately, there will be no easy way of keeping that file synced other than to manually download new versions with the Dropbox app.
Once you have the file flagged in KeePassDroid, just enter the passcode, and you’re in. Any website you go to in your Internet Group (KeePass organizes data in groups like Internet and Network) and open the website you need to access. We quite like that KeePassDroid does the same handy trick with notifications to copy the name and password for a site, but it does this automatically when you open the database record.
The encrypted file is totally yours to do do with as you please. You can easily edit it right on the device, but then you have to get that back into Dropbox for use elsewhere. KeePassDroid adds a couple of good features with user-selectable time-outs for locking the app and clearing the clipboard.
KeePass isn’t easy, but it offers you the maximum of control. The entire system is totally free if you’re willing to assemble the pieces.
The password manager you use on Android will depend on your personal feelings about security. LastPass takes on all the work for you, but keeps your data a cloud you don’t control. 1Password has more limited functionality in the app, but you get to control the file however you like, even keeping it in Dropbox. The there’s KeePass and KeePassDroid that let you handle everything yourself. Do you use a password manager on Android? Let us know in the comments.