Like just about every other “find my device” solution (Android Lost and friends), Cirrus Manager is an app-and-website combo. You install the app on your phone and configure it to talk to the website, and then use the website if the need ever arises. I have been testing Cirrus Manager for over a month before writing this post, so the app is already configured on my phone. When someone (hopefully me…) runs the app, the first thing they see is a password prompt:
Once you enter the correct password, you get to the main menu:
This is not an “all or nothing” proposition. You can select how much control you wish to grant Cirrus Manager over your phone.
As you can see, I chose not to manage contacts, messages, and processes via the Web interface. If anyone ever steals my phone, I would be able to tell who they’re calling. More importantly, Cirrus Manager constantly sends location updates to the server, and you can even turn the GPS on remotely for better accuracy.
The security settings are quite comprehensive:
I recently got to test the “Lock on SIM change” feature, accidentally. I switched carriers, and upon inserting my new SIM card and booting my phone, Cirrus presented me with a password prompt. I then entered my password (correctly), and it just shut off. No matter how many times I did this, this kept happening. The only way to get it to work was to insert the original SIM, access the app, disable “Lock on SIM change” and then change the SIM. CirrusLabs (the developer) say this should not happen, but that was the case when I tested it.
Still, it was a good example of how effective the locking mechanism can be. I found no way to circumvent the lock when it happened, and I consider myself a fairly skilled Android user. If your device is rooted, someone can always plug it into a PC and use adb shell to uninstall whatever is locking your device – but this is true for all such security solutions (so you can only hope your device doesn’t fall into skilled hands, or that you’re faster than the thief).
The last feature in the main menu, Auto Update Interval, is only available for paid plans (I subscribed to the $3/mo. plan). But even if your device doesn’t auto-update the site, you can always poll it manually. Which brings us to the site itself:
In a word: slick. The site runs on Google App Engine, and you get to use your normal Google account to log in. The gorgeous interface is dominated by a side menu that opens as soon as you hover over the strip of icons:
The menu is fairly self-explanatory. The two most important features, for me, are geolocating your device and remotely wiping it in case you cannot retrieve it. Let’s look at geolocation first:
Yup, this is where I am. You may be wondering why I live in a country that has no streets. This is not an issue specific to Cirrus Manager. The Google Maps API simply does not support all countries and territories, and I’m unlucky enough to be located in such an unsupported country. Clicking the pin icon reveals the latitude and longitude coordinates reported by the device, which you can then search for on Google Maps or any other mapping solution. If you’re in a supported location (North America, for example), you won’t have to go through that extra step.
Another interesting option is visualizing the location history over time. This shows the routes the device made over time as red lines over the map, and while it can be a bit creepy, it’s also very interesting to see how your device has been moving all over town.
Next, let’s look at the “nuclear option”. If someone steals your device and you become convinced you can’t have it back, you really should wipe it remotely. This is what the Wipe Device option looks like:
Note the option to wipe the SD card as well. This is a crucial option. If you just wipe your device without wiping the SD card, any would-be thief would still have access to lots of personal information, and possibly complete copies of all of your apps and data (if you use Titanium Backup, which you really should). The SD wipe option is only available for paid plans, though (and is one of the key reasons I chose to pay for the service).
Cirrus Manager has plenty of other features, including detailed hardware information for your device, SMS control (wipe your device using an SMS if it has no connectivity), and more. The free version is very good, but the paid version is even better. This is the security solution I chose for my own device – definitely recommended. Let us know in the comments which security app you use to protect your Android phone.