AgileBits has joined the Android password management fight with the long-awaited release of 1Password for Android, and it’s making the service free until August 1 to entice new users.
1Password joins an increasing number of password management solutions on Android such as LastPass, PasswordGenie and more that store, encrypt and decrypt passwords. Services like this are becoming increasingly important as users log into more and more apps and services on their mobile devices, and even moreso in the wake of security scares like Heartbleed.
Reusing passwords across multiple sites and services can lead to security breaches and identity theft, so password management apps have rightfully earned a special place in users’ first-install list when setting up a new device.
To say AgileBits has dragged their heels on releasing a proper app for Android is a big understatement. There’s long been a 1Password reader app available in Google Play, but the app was released years ago, doesn’t follow any of Android’s modern design guidelines and most importantly didn’t allow editing of your password vault. That changes today.
The new 1Password app was first hinted at almost a year ago by the company on their blog, and is now available in Google Play. It brings a modern Holo design and has tablet and phone UIs in the same app. Most importantly, it also allows you to edit your vault.
Note that the premium features of the app (including editing) are free until August 1. After that, continued use will require an in-app purchase – the price of which is yet to be determined.
Features and Comparisons
The app doesn’t allow you to take screenshots of your vault – a nice touch.
1Password encrypts your passwords and locks them away behind your Master Password. Whenever you need access to your vault, that’s the password you’ll use. You can also add notes and attachments to your vault – they’ll also get synced across to Dropbox or wherever you store your vault on your device.
Notably, it’s your responsibility to sync passwords across devices. 1Password doesn’t offer a centrally-hosted service like LastPass, instead relying on your own storage and sync service (Dropbox is supported). This is perhaps a little annoying, but might actually present a better security model than LastPass because your passwords can’t be compromised by an attacker getting access to AgileBits’ servers.
The LastPass model offers some benefits, though – as the details of the Heartbleed SSL vulnerability emerged earlier this year, LastPass was able to scan users’ password vaults and identify which passwords they needed to change. LastPass also looks at compromised account data from major security breaches and sends out “Sentry” email alerts to let you know when they’ve found your details in a leak. A more basic security scan, finding duplicated and weak passwords, is also a service the LastPass client provides that 1Password does not.
LastPass also offers better app integration at the moment, as it has an overlay that can detect certain apps and draw over them to present login autofill options and an “input method” (keyboard replacement) option allowing you to select passwords without leaving the app or browser.
It seems that LastPass has used their lead on 1Password to offer an overall better Android client. It’s possible that 1Password will evolve over time to match and best some of LastPass’ features, but I don’t see it happening right now.
There’s one other barrier that I think will slow adoption of 1Password for new users…
Compared to LastPass, 1Password is quite an expensive proposition in the short term. Where LastPass charges a small yearly fee and makes its apps free across platforms, 1Password sells you the app on each platform. Which model presents a better choice for you depends on how long you use the service for, and the platforms you use.
The Mac and Windows clients cost US $50 each (or you can get both for US $70), and the iOS version is currently going for AU $22.99 (it seems likely that the Android version will come in somewhere comparable to thhis price). There’s also a Chrome desktop extension, but that requires the Mac/Windows client to function.
I wouldn’t use a password manager without it hooking into my desktop browser, so you’re looking at a good $60-70 there for a desktop version and mobile client, and another purchase if you also have an iOS device in your life.
In comparison, LastPass costs US $12 per year. If you keep using it for a number of years, 1Password will eventually work out cheaper, but it’ll take a while.
If you’re using LastPass and want to try out 1Password I’m told you can migrate your passwords using the desktop client.
The new 1Password for Android is now available in Google Play.
Have you adopted a password manager? Which one, why, and will you move to 1Password? Tell us in the comments!