Lookout Mobile Security, developers of Lookout Security & Antivirus (more commonly known as Lookout) look to stand out in the lineup of Android Security apps, offering a great set of security features that not only find (and control) your phone once it is lost, but protect against apps and web pages that seek to harm your phone from the inside.

At a Glance:

At first blush Lookout already seems impressive. A quick look at its page in the Android market reveals that it is “the #1 Security & Antivirus App for Android,” and that it falls into the “10 million to 50 million downloads” category, meaning the developers must be doing something right. Lookout comes in two flavors: Free and Premium, with the latter coming in at a price of $2.99/month or $29.99/year.

The phone-side app is simple and smooth, showing three status of each of the main security features. Clicking one of the items expands a box with a button that toggles the features on or off.

Part of the phone app is Lookout's Antivirus protection. The app is always on alert while you're browsing the web, but the user can trigger an active scan of installed apps to protect against viruses, spyware, trojans, and other malware.

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The web console is just as clean and intuitive as the phone app, prominently displaying all the key functions and their statuses, as well as other options. All of the user's security functions are divided into 3 main tabs: Security, Backup, and Missing Device.

Security

This tab essentially contains information related to anti-malware security, displaying recent scans of installed applications and recommended actions based on whether any malware was found.

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Backup

A feature I was very impressed by was the ability to backup and restore photos, contacts and call history remotely. Once the files are backed up, they are viewable from the online console, and the user can restore the data easily with the push of a button.

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Missing Device

This tab contains many of the features we've come to expect from security apps, the first of which is location. This pinpoints your device in a handy Google Maps pane right there in the console. As with all of the features on the online console, locating your device happens in a snap, and - if GPS is activated - is accurate up to approximate address.

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The "scream" function is the full-volume, unstoppable alarm we are familiar with, triggering a loud ringtone to issue from your device until the volume is turned down or the device is powered off.

The lock function does just what it says, and requires a 4-digit PIN to unlock the device. The PIN is programmable from the console.

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Lookout can also remotely wipe your device, but warns that data must be enabled and that the app will not survive the wipe, meaning once you wipe the device, it is no longer controllable or secure. This is a downside to the app - it would be nice to see root presence.

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Final Thoughts

While Lookout mobile provides a beautiful, intuitive interface and much-needed functionality, I think the price point and limited free functionality are hits against it. The app does a lot of things right however (for example support for multiple devices), so it's important to take a look at the pros and cons before making a final decision on the app.

Pros

  • Some Free Functionality - While the free options are pretty limited, they are there. The basics you may need or want (such as location) work without a subscription.
  • Interface/Ease of Use - The app and its online counterpart are super sophisticated and easy to use. There's no guesswork in making use of Lookout's features.
  • Support for Multiple Devices - Lookout allows you to add devices, including tablets, to your account, making the process of securing multiple devices simple and consolidated.
  • Anti-Malware Protection - This feature is a nice touch, adding a bit of extra security against digital predators.

Cons

  • No SMS Functionality - Lookout doesn't provide the option of SMS control, which is a serious hit against the app because it means data must always be enabled to remotely control your device.
  • No Root Presence - The app will not survive a wipe, and your device will be left vulnerable. It is nice to see that the online console explicitly warns you about this before performing a data wipe however.
  • There Could Be More - While Lookout provides a great set of features for subscription, I feel like there could be more options for the price, such as call redirects, remote photo capture, etc.
  • No Tablet Support - Even though Lookout doesn't rely on any phone-specific features (like SMS), it still lacks support for tablets, despite the ability to protect multiple devices.

Lookout provides its best features for a price. For those more interested in antivirus and web security options, it may be a wise investment, but for those concerned solely with lost or stolen phones - and keeping them secure - there are cheaper options (albeit with less beautiful interfaces) that are worth exploring.