These days you can't do anything without a password, and most of us are smart enough not to use the same password for everything. (Right?) Add in the fact that different sites and different contexts require different kinds of passwords -- four numbers for your banking PIN, eight characters including punctuation for your corporate accounts, another one to unlock encrypted files, and yet more for every online shopping sites you frequent - and there's no way you can remember all of that. Fortunately there are quite a few password manager apps for the iPad, many of which also have desktop components available, and this article will help you choose the right one for your needs.
1Password Pro ($14.99, universal)
1Password Pro has long been a favorite password manager on the Mac platform, and for good reason. Imagine never having to type in another password when surfing the web, but instead logging in to shopping portals and other web sites with a couple of taps. Or how about keeping all of your personal information secure, from credit card numbers to software registration and email passwords? 1Password Pro does it all on your iPad, organizing your personal data and keeping it safe.
Data entry is a breeze; simply choose from one of five main categories: Logins, Accounts, Identities, Software, and Wallet. Within each area you will find a variety of templates, from bank accounts and credit cards to email accounts and iTunes. Pick a template, fill in the blanks, and that's it. Fields that aren't being used are hidden, so you don't have to scroll down to get the info you really need. The templates are rather comprehensive, though there are a couple of head-scratching omissions, such as medical and car insurance. The Notes category is a great place to store everything that doesn't fit neatly into the other areas.
Since 1Password includes a web browser, you can log in to secure web sites with a single tap, rather than having to enter the address, your login and password information, etc. That's pretty cool, but the really amazing part is the cloud synchronization. If you have a Dropbox account, or are willing to set up a free account, 1Password will automatically keep your data in sync across every device, no matter whether you're adding or editing information on your desktop computer, iPad, and iPhone/iPod Touch. It's easy to set up and it works flawlessly -- no more struggles, no more manual synchronization via Wi-Fi or some other kludgey method.
If you want the Cadillac of password managers, and want to effortlessly keep all of your personal information in sync across multiple platforms (mobile and desktop), then you need to get this app and either the Mac ($39.95) or Windows ($19.95, beta) desktop version right this very minute. It isn't totally perfect since you can't create your own templates, but it does hit the 95% mark, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
DataVault Password Manager ($9.99 on sale, regularly $19.95, universal)
When you first download DataVault Password Manager, you'll be prompted to set up your master password and then be treated to a short tutorial before you are taken to the main portion of the app. The search and settings icons are found at the top left and right corners respectively, while the bottom toolbar includes the add record feature, password generator, list and tree view selector, lock button, and expand/collapse button.
All of your records are organized into business and personal folders, and adding new records is as easy as tapping the new record icon in the bottom left corner of the screen, choosing the appropriate template, and filling in the relevant information. There are 25 templates to choose from, including everything from credit cards and frequent flyer clubs to home information and insurance. You can choose on a per-field basis whether or not you want a particular value to be masked, and the search function works like a charm.
DataVault is easy to use, with a clean and simple interface that hides a lot of power under the hood. If you want to use it as is, you'll find that it's well organized, and will be able to handle all of your personal information quite handily. If you need the app to fulfill a more specialized purpose, you can create your own templates and categories to customize DataVault to your own needs. If you want to synchronize your information with a Mac or Windows computer, you can do that too. The respective desktop companion applications are $9.95 each, though a 30-day trial is available so you can test them yourself.
eWallet ($9.99, universal)
If you want your passwords and other personal information to be organized into virtual "cards" just as you might find in your real wallet, eWallet is the app for you. Instead of presenting you with a dry and boring list of passwords, credit card numbers, and other types of personal information, this app actually gives you the cards. When you add records to the database and fill in the typical information, you'll be filling out a form much like many of the other password management apps included in this review.
When you go back to the main view and start tapping through your records, you'll find that the information is nicely organized on a facsimile of the cards in your real wallet. The effect is visually appealing, and it makes things easier to find. There's a fully featured search function included with the app, and you also have the option of setting up multiple virtual wallets. This is great for folks who like to keep their work and personal information separate, for example, and makes things easier to find. When I'm hunting for my email password, I really don't want to slog through 12 different records looking for the one that I want, and the idea of having separate eWallets really helps with that.
I really like eWallet, and recommend it highly because it is one of the best password management apps included with this review. 1Password does get the edge based on automatic remote synchronization with Dropbox, but if that feature isn't important to you then eWallet is the top pick. If you want to synchronize with a desktop application, eWallet is available for both the Windows and Mac platforms. Your $19.95 purchase is multiplatform, so if you use both a Mac and a Windows PC, you won't have to purchase multiple copies of the desktop application.
Keeper Password & Data Vault for iPad (free)
Keeper Password & Data Vault is one of the simpler password protection apps for the iPad in that each record can contain a maximum of five fields: a folder (category), title, secret 1 and secret 2, plus a note field. It's a little more freeform than most of the other apps, which can be either a blessing or a curse -- you're not scrolling through page after page of information, but it may be a little more difficult to include everything unless you stuff the notes field full of information that doesn't fit into the other fields.
There are some nice features included, such as the "self-destruct" option that safely removes all of your personal data from the app after five failed master password entry attempts. Twelve different themes are included so that you can customize the app, and you can also customize the field headers if you like.
Keeper is the only free app included in this roundup, but it isn't truly free. When you first start using the app you will get a 30-day free trial for the Keeper service, which includes the iPad app, Keeper desktop computer app, and cloud data backup for $29.99 a year. For the same price, you can own 1Password, a much more robust app, with no extra subscription fees.
mSecure ($4.99, universal)
If you're a bargain hunter looking for the most economical iPad password management option, mSecure is your app. It doesn't have a lot of frills, and looks fairly plain, but it includes 17 predefined templates and 144 icons and it works like a dream. Passwords and other sensitive info are automatically masked, and tapping the clipboard icon to the right of any field automatically copies that field so that you don't have to type out that password when you're trying to log into a site in your browser.
Even better, the app also includes the free mBackup companion software for Mac and PC desktop computers. If you want to stick with just the iPad app, you can also email a backup copy of your database -- the app will even warn you to set up a master password before doing so, to encrypt that backup copy and keep it safe from prying eyes.
In basic layout, mSecure reminds me quite strongly of TravelTracker Pro. You can sort your records by name or by type, and you don't need a tutorial or any fancy instructions, because you can figure it out for yourself in less than a minute playing with the app. But it has plenty of fields that you can customize, so you don't have to dump everything into the generic notes field unless you really want to. You'll also find two font sizes and two color themes, but that's about it. If you're looking for eye candy, you won't find it here, but you will find plenty of good, no-frills security for all of your passwords and other critical information.
PasswordWallet ($4.99, universal)
While PasswordWallet will store any personal information that you care to input, it is designed specifically to improve your web browsing/online shopping experience. Each record includes five fields beyond the record title, including the URL, username, password, category, and notes. Once you set up each record, you can tap the Visit icon in the top right corner of the screen to launch PasswordWallet's internal web browser. Your information isn't automatically filled in, but it's pretty close. Just tap on the relevant field and then tap on the icon in the top right corner of the screen to autofill your username, for example, and then tap on the password field and then the corresponding icon to fill that in too.
It works very well, and is great for folks who heeded the security warnings we're always hearing and have set up strong passwords with a combination of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. Those strong passwords can be quite hard to remember, and even harder to type each time you need to use them -- especially if you're holding the iPad in one hand and trying to type on the screen with the other.
There is a variety of sorting methods available, as well as a search feature, though there is no way to add your own templates. You'll also find plenty of synchronization options, from syncing with the desktop companion app, another iPhone, or MobileMe. The desktop companion application is available for Mac and PC desktop computers, and PasswordWallet for iPad will sync with either one. If you want to purchase the desktop companion app (or any of the other applications by the same developer), you'll find a 20% off coupon within the iPad app. PasswordWallet is a useful app, though a slightly misnamed one in the sense that it's more about the online passwords and web accounts than it is about keeping your personal information and the contents of your virtual wallet safe.
Safe ($5.99, universal)
Are you the do it yourself type? Do you want things just the way you want them, and don't like trying to use someone else's system? If so, take a closer look at Safe. You set up your own categories and your own organizational scheme. Want to keep all your credit card and wallet information together, with separate categories for home and insurance information, and another category for all of your web logins? You can do that, or you can categorize your information by life focus or role, such as business, personal, family, etc.
No matter how you choose to set up your categories, you can have six different types of records: credit cards, bank accounts, web accounts, general notes, photos, and contacts. Each of those record types has plenty of fields you can fill in with all of your information. The photo type may seem somewhat strange since it invites you to select a photo already stored on your iPad and give it a title. I'm still not quite sure what that one is all about, but the other record types are well organized. There are no desktop companion apps available, so there is no synchronization option beyond the standard iTunes backup when you sync your iPad. Safe works well, but it needs more features in order to compete with the other password management apps available in the App Store.
SplashID is an app that I've been using for years on other platforms, so it's the one with which I am the most familiar. It strikes a good balance between organization (because there are plenty of templates included with the app) and potential personalization (because you can edit those templates or add your own). The templates cover a wide range, from bank accounts and birthdays to clothing sizes and frequent flyer info to prescriptions and serial numbers. Each record can have as many as nine different fields, along with photo attachments and notes.
Like some of the other password apps included in this article, SplashID has an internal web browser that will autofill your login information for you, which can make things much faster and easier. The app also goes one step further, showing a small overlay at the top left corner with your username and password for that site. You can dismiss it if you like, but it's certainly handy if for some reason the app can't autofill those login fields for you.
The main issue with SplashID at this point is that it simply can't match the automatic background synchronization offered by 1Password. If you can remember to sync with the desktop app and have only one mobile device, this isn't too big a problem. If, however, you have multiple devices like an iPhone and an iPad, or if you are trying to share the same database with your spouse, for example, things can get very complicated very fast. Each version of the desktop app will only sync with one specific mobile platform, so if you need to sync with more than one you will have to use a rather kludgey method described in a video on the SplashData web site. The upcoming SplashID version 6 will solve this problem, though a release date has not yet been announced.
If you lead a less complicated life than I do and only have an iPad, SplashID is an extremely capable app that is significantly less expensive than 1Password, especially when you factor in the cost of the app and the companion desktop software. I recommend it highly, and if an automatic background synchronization option is ever added, I just might switch back.
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