Lookout Mobile Security is one of the top antivirus and device tracking solutions for Android. It has a proud spot on our Best Android Apps page, and we’ve given it some coverage as part of our MakeUseOf directory. However, today I’d like to take you deeper than ever before, and really show you the different parts of the app and how it takes care of your device security.
I have a subscription to Lookout’s Premium version ($2.99/month), but we’ll be looking at the free version, both via the Android interface and via the website. If you don’t have a solid device tracking solution installed on your Android smartphone, you owe it to yourself to read this post.
The Android App
That snippet you see above is one of the most important things Lookout offers. Whenever you install or update an app on your Android device, Lookout will scan it to make sure it doesn’t contain malware. As iOS fans like to remind us, malware is a very real problem on Android devices. Using Lookout can mitigate the risk, much like using an antivirus on your desktop computer.
Now, let’s look at the app itself:
You can clearly see what features Premium users get, and we’re not going to get into those. When you hit the + button next to each feature, it expands to show just a bit of status information:
Next, let’s look at some of the settings the app offers:
In addition to live scanning, Lookout scans the entire device on schedule. You can set the frequency (off, daily, or weekly), as well as the days and times you’d like it to scan on.
One other important setting you should know about:
This option lets you set Lookout as a Device Administrator. One of its side effects is that screen lock can’t easily be toggled on and off, which is the main reason why it’s not switched on for my phone.
That’s pretty much it for the app itself. The free version offers virus scanning and missing device functionality, which is a big deal but doesn’t expose much of an interface on the device. If you lose your device, you’re going to want to use the Lookout website, which is what we’ll look at right now.
The Web Interface
As you can see, the Web interface offers several tabs. The Security tab includes a summary of scans done on your device, and is basically a boring logfile. The Backup tab offers remote backup, but I consider the solution offered by Titanium Backup to be vastly superior to anything Lookout has to offer, so we won’t spend any time delving into that. But the Missing Device tab… that’s what we’re here for.
The Locate and Scream options are available for free. Let’s look at Scream first:
This option is handy if you misplace your phone somewhere in your apartment or office. You know it’s in there somewhere, but can’t find it, no matter how hard you look. “Why not just call it?” you ask. Good question! If it’s not on silent, you should go ahead and call it. But what if it’s in silent mode, or doesn’t even vibrate when you call? In those cases, you need Lookout’s Scream functionality.
When I tested Shout, it took its sweet time. It’s definitely not an instant feature, and I had to wait for several moments before my phone started sounding a siren and blinking the screen like crazy. If it were lost anywhere in hearing range, I am sure I would have heard it.
Locating A Lost Device
When you click the Locate button (and the Scream button, for that matter), Lookout sends an SMS to the device to initiate a connection:
If you’re using anything like SMS Popup, that SMS message will be displayed just like any other message. This means if someone actually stole your phone, they now know you are trying to locate it. That’s a potential downer, but it’s unavoidable, given how Lookout works.
After a few moments, Lookout displays your location on an embedded instance of Google Maps. I won’t share a screenshot (for obvious reasons), but it is remarkably accurate in my case, even indoors and without a GPS lock.
Getting infected with a nasty bit of malware can be a serious problem, and losing your device is no laughing matter. Lookout Security is a free and simple way to stay safer from such threats. Use it, or, if you prefer another antivirus/device tracking solution, tell me about it in the comments (don’t forget to say why!).
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