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It can be time consuming and annoying to keep a PIN or password lock Which Is More Secure, A Password Or a Pattern Lock? Which Is More Secure, A Password Or a Pattern Lock? Our smartphones carry a lot of personal information. All of your text messages, emails, notes, apps, app data, music, pictures, and so much more are all on there. While it's a very great convenience to... Read More on your phone all the time. Sometimes you just want quick access without having to type in a code!

But at the same time, there’s definitely information on your phone that you want to keep private Smartphone Privacy Settings You Need To Activate Today Smartphone Privacy Settings You Need To Activate Today Smartphones ship with plenty of default settings that could be leaking your info. Let's dive in and tweak them. Read More . So, what about if you could lock individual apps like your Messaging or Photos app?

That’s where Hexlock comes in.

Setup

First, download Hexlock from the Play Store. Once that is installed, open it up, and you’ll be prompted to set a PIN or Pattern lock. This is the lock code you’ll need to use each time you open Hexlock or any of the apps that you choose to lock.

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Once your PIN or Pattern lock is set, you’ll be able to start locking apps. However, there isn’t just one list of apps that will be blocked. You can create multiple lists based on different needs. For now, let’s begin with a single list.

You’ll start out in the green panel, which is Work. Tap the button on the bottom to view a list of apps that you can lock.

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Here you can scroll through a list of all of your apps and choose which should be locked for Work. Tap the down arrow in the upper left when you’re done. Then you can swipe left or right to move to other lists like Home or Café. You can manually return here to change which mode you’d like to be in.

And once that is complete, you’re done setting it up! It’s that simple. Hexlock will run in the background and lock apps based on whichever list you’ve chosen. But there’s a bit more to this app than that. Let’s dig into it.

Design

Aesthetically, Hexlock is a gorgeous app. The bright colors of the different lists helps to visually differentiate them, and the matching status bar color really pulls it together.

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There’s a nice little animation when you swipe between screens that has the hexagon in the center roll out of the way. It’s a small touch, but it really makes the app feels well put together.

Simply put, this is an app designed with the most modern design principles Exploring Android L: What Exactly Is Material Design? Exploring Android L: What Exactly Is Material Design? You may have heard about Android L and Material Design, but what exactly is this new design philosophy and how will it affect Android and other Google products? Read More in mind. You won’t be disappointed by it.

Customization

This wouldn’t be Android if we didn’t talk a bit about customization, and Hexlock is fairly flexible in this regard. You can have a maximum of six lists, each with a different color and logo. These are: Work, Home, Café, Party, Parental, and School.

You add these by tapping the “+” icon in the upper right, and you can edit them using the pencil icon beside it.

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You may customize what these lists are called (for instance, I changed my “Café” list to a “Dinner with family” list), as well as their icon and color combination (not individually). Additionally, if your chosen name is longer than a few characters, it will be cut off, as shown above by the “Dinner…” title.

Further in the settings, you’ll find the ability to prevent the app from being uninstalled. This way, if someone steals your phone or just really wants to pry into your life, they won’t be able to uninstall Hexlock just to do that. It does this by making the app a Device Administrator, and if you want to uninstall it in the future, all you have to do is go back into the app and turn it off.

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The two other customizable features are “Enable Auto-Activate” and “Notify to lock new apps”.

Enable Auto-Activate, when activated, will lock your phone when you leave a designated Wi-Fi area. This could be useful if you don’t want your device locked at home, but you want it locked as soon as you leave.

Notify to lock new apps, on the other hand, is rather self-explanatory. Whenever you download a new app, Hexlock will display a pop-up notification asking if you want to lock it. Depending on how forgetful you are, this could be a useful feature.

And if you ever want to just turn off the locking feature completely, all you have to do is swipe all the way to the left in the app and choose, Off.

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So far, it manages to accomplish everything you might need out of a locking app. The only other aspect there is to mention is the persistent notification. There won’t be any icon in your status bar, but there will be a notification in your notification panel letting you know what mode you’re in, as seen below.

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Tapping on the notification takes you directly to the app so you can change the mode if you want. Unfortunately, you can’t disable this notification within the app. Instead, you’ll need to head to Settings > Apps > Hexlock and uncheck Show Notifications.

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The inability to disable the persistent notification is really the only downside to this app, but if you like the persistent notification or are happy disabling the app’s notifications in your settings, then there’s no problem.

Price

Hexlock is free and ad-supported. Small banner ads run along the bottom of the screen where you enter in your PIN or Pattern lock. This does mean your device is going to use a bit of data to load those ads every time you access a locked app.

The brightside is that the ads are generally unobtrusive and shouldn’t interfere with you actually using the app. They never displayed for me within the app past the lock screen, and there were never any full screen ads or ads placed near buttons to try to make you accidentally click. This is how ads on free apps should be done.

However, if you’re unhappy with the ads and want to remove them, that can be done within the settings via a $1.07 in-app purchase.

What Do You Think?

I came away very impressed by Hexlock. For the purpose of individually locking apps, it’s perfect, and in fact, it offers a lot of extra value with a clean, modern design and the ability to create customizable lists. This is definitely a solid alternative to the traditional lockscreen Improve Your Android Lock Screen Security With These 5 Tips Improve Your Android Lock Screen Security With These 5 Tips You're perhaps reading this thinking "hah, no thanks MakeUseOf, my Android is secured with a lock screen pattern – my phone is impregnable!" Read More or any lockscreen replacement app 3 Best Free Lockscreen Replacement Apps For Android 3 Best Free Lockscreen Replacement Apps For Android Calling all Android tinkerers! Are you tired of looking at the same, boring screen every time you wake up your phone from sleep? Why not customize it and breathe new life into your phone? Read More .

Download: Hexlock (Free)

But we’d like to hear from you. What do you think of Hexlock? Have you ever used the app? Let us know in the comments!

  1. Jan Haak Davis
    June 23, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    I accidentally turned Hexlock off on that first screen. How do I turn it back on? When I go to my home screen, it'll let me turn on or off the locks on the apps, but ink the status screen it still says Hexlock is off?

    • Riley J. Dennis
      June 24, 2015 at 1:31 am

      I'm not sure! You might wanna try just uninstalling and reinstalling it :)

    • emfgek
      June 25, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      Swipe left or right to get to the other profiles.

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