It’s a sad truth, but you do need an antivirus to securely use Android these days. Google Play is teeming with beautiful and interesting apps, but it also has its fair share of bad apples seeking to misuse your personal data, drain your battery life, or be malicious in other creative and surprising ways. Fortunately, there’s no lack of high-quality antivirus apps: We’ve previously looked at three of the best antivirus apps (Kaspersky, Lookout, and F-Secure), and also reviewed Lookout on its own. Today I’m here to look at another product that strives not only to protect you from viruses, but actually make your phone or tablet faster: Advanced Mobile Care.
Before we get started, full disclosure: IObit, the company who makes Advanced Mobile Care, also offers some of its software via MakeUseOf Rewards. This is not, however, a sponsored review. With over half a million Google Play downloads and a 4.7-star average coming from over 6,100 reviews, Advanced Mobile Care is impressive enough to review in its own right.
Initial Impressions and Getting Started
When you first launch Advanced Mobile Care, it starts you off with a quick three-screen tour (also known as an “onboarding”). This sets the visual tone for the app, which is generally blue and glow-y:
Many people look at their smartphones and tablets as entertainment devices, and it looks like IObit decided the app should take this notion and run with it. It also stresses simplicity:
That’s the main screen, with a very clear “first action” you’re supposed to take. But since I’m an inquisitive type, I hit the menu button before scanning just to see what happens:
IObit eschews the traditional Android text-only menu for a more visual option. The colorful ribbons with the stars confused me, though; At first I thought they indicate sneaky “Premium features” for paid users, something IObit doesn’t hint at in the Google Play page. Turns out I was wrong: These features are just as free as the rest. I guess these are the ones IObit wants me to use or notice first. Interesting, since they seem to be randomly sprinkled in with the others.
Now would be a good time to list out everything Advanced Mobile Care tries to do with a quick explanation of what’s what:
- Antivirus: Also scans apps as you install them.
- Game Speeder: A feature that purports to make your games run faster by killing tasks before you launch a game.
- App Manager: Lets you uninstall apps, sort-of in bulk (not really, though).
- Battery Saver: A bit like a built-in JuiceDefender for cutting down on power-draining activities.
- Task Killer: A downright irresponsible addition to the suite if you ask me. Android really doesn’t need a task killer to work correctly.
- Privacy Advisor: Scans your apps and summarizes the permissions they require.
- Privacy Locker: Safeguards your images and such behind a code. Still doesn’t make taking risqué photos with your phone a good idea.
- Invite Friends: For spreading and recommending the app.
- Cloud Backup: Only for contacts and call logs. Requires an account; only useful if you don’t sync your contacts with Google’s servers.
This isn’t a manual, so I won’t be looking at all of these, just a few that piqued my interest.
The App Manager has several parts, with the uninstaller being just one. That’s the interesting bit, to me, so that’s what you can see above. It lets you checkmark several apps for bulk removal; but when you tap the Uninstall button, it doesn’t really remove them in bulk (like Titanium Backup does); rather, it triggers Android’s native uninstaller for each app separately, making you confirm each individual app. So, this saves a little bit of time, but not much.
More important, the uninstaller won’t let you sort apps by installation date, which is often the most useful way to track down apps you want to remove (mainly recently installed apps you realize you’re not actually using).
The Privacy Advisor greets you with a quick explanation, alongside a hooded character that bears a striking resemblance to the guy you see on the top-left of a Chrome Incognito window. It then scans your apps, literally:
While the scan is running, icons for your apps slowly scroll down what looks like an armored window, with a laser running over them. Clear, amusing, and visual – I’m sure some users would scan their apps just for fun. Once done, you get a page with scan results, which are basically a list of Android system permissions showing how many apps require each:
Tap a permission, and get a list of all apps that require it:
You can now mark one or more apps and quickly remove them.
Game Speeder tries to make games faster by killing apps before you launch a game. After a quick explanation slide, it aggregates games on your system to a single launch screen:
Yes, I’m not much of a gamer, and the games I do play don’t pose a challenge to my Galaxy S III’s capabilities. When you tap a game, it literally launches it:
While Game Speeder sets your system up to run the game, you get an amusing animation showing the game launching. I like it because of how literal it is – just like the “scanning” animation.
I can tell you that Angry Birds Space didn’t run less well when launched through Game Speeder. I really can’t say it was any better, though. If you’re mainly a Sudoku kind of guy, you’re not going to get much out of this feature – but if you play graphically-intensive games on a previous-generation device, I’d love to hear if Game Speeder did anything for you in the comments.
I won’t dive deep into Mobile Care’s scanner, because frankly, it’s not all that unique. Here’s the scan results screen:
I find this screen needlessly alarmist; it makes it seem like something’s wrong with the device (all of that scary color, and no less than 156 “junk files”!), when really, things are just peachy:
It’s interesting Mobile Care puts Browser History under “Junk Files” and marks it for deletion by default. I understand why it wants to delete gallery thumbnails by default, but browser history? It almost feels like it’s there just to inflate the number of items found (because people like it when their security scanner finds things – they think it means it’s being efficient).
Still, the scan itself doesn’t do any harm, and IObit isn’t known for missing known threats. I just wish it didn’t feel like it was trying hard to find something, anything, just to prove itself worthy.
Mobile Care’s strategy is clear: Try to do a lot while staying pretty. Well, the looks work, at least for me. This is an attractive app, and the layout is sensible and consistent. Animations, while pretty, don’t feel gratuitous and actually help communicate what the app is doing in a non-technical way. Some of the tools offered are interesting and valuable (The Privacy Scanner makes permissions very clear), while others feel almost irresponsible (Task Killer). So in that department, Mobile Care is a bit of a mixed bag. Still, if you don’t go crazy with it, it makes for a valuable mobile security tool that’s also fun to use.