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Three Ways to Improve Your Android's Lock Screen Security

, Gawker Media

Three Ways to Improve Your Android's Lock Screen Security

Sure, Android users don't have fingerprint scanners (well, maybe one), but that doesn't mean you're stuck when it comes to security. Here are some of the best apps you can download to boost security on your phone without buying all-new hardware.

Picture Password Obscures Your Pattern Unlock

Three Ways to Improve Your Android's Lock Screen Security

On Android, you have the option to create a pattern unlock, in addition to a PIN or password. However, there are only so many possible combinations and figuring out your pattern is only a smudge away. Picture Password Lockscreen makes this a bit more difficult by allowing you to create any arbitrary pattern on your choice of picture.

The feature is actually very similar to Windows 8's picture password lock screen. The advantage, of course, is that someone with your phone in hand won't immediately be able to tell what pattern you used to unlock your phone. While technically it may be possible to figure it out from the smudges, using the entire screen makes it difficult to discern what's a security pattern and what's normal phone usage.

Hidden Lock Hides the Lock Screen Altogether

You know what's even better than a lock screen? No lock screen. This is Hidden Lock's approach, anyway. This lock screen replacement shows you a snapshot of what your phone looked like before you turned it off. It doesn't function, though. It's simply a background. It will only unlock once you input your unlock pattern.

If a person with malicious intent gets access to your phone with this method, they'll find themselves frustrated when your phone doesn't seem to work. Obviously, this won't necessarily stop a clever person, but on its face, it should deter plenty of people from venturing further into your phone.

Lockscreen Policy Closes Several Pesky Security Holes

Three Ways to Improve Your Android's Lock Screen Security

While it's technically not a lockscreen replacement, if you're concerned about your phone's security, Lockscreen Policy is probably something you should be taking a look at. In Android 4.2, lock screen widgets were introduced. While these are neat features, they also allow people to access potentially critical functions (like your Gmail) without any security. Android 4.2 also allows you to swipe to the right to access the camera.

Lockscreen Policy kills both of these abilities. The lock screen widgets may not be quite as necessary (if you don't want people reading your emails, don't add an email lock screen widget), but there's no reason to allow a thief or mischievous friend to have access to your camera without permission.

A Word on Password Managers

While it would be quite impossible for most Android phones to duplicate the Touch ID technology Apple announced for the new iPhone 5S, there is still some demand for entering passwords to be simpler. To that end, some of our favorite password managers have Android support. Additionally, there are dedicated Android solutions like Dashlane and mSecure that not only store your passwords on your mobile device, but can hold other important information like credit card numbers or bank account information. None are complete replacements for tapping your finger once to enter a password, but they can certainly help make things a little easier.

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