Overvi3w from Unfairware is our next entry in the Mobile Security App Shootout, bringing a nice set of features for free (and a bevvy of other features with a subscription) in a lightweight, battery-friendly package.
At A Glance
Unlike the past two apps in the Shootout, Overvi3w relies on an online interface to remotely control and receive data from your phone. The app itself installs pretty quickly and is out of your hair after that - it automatically hides itself after setup (if you reboot), making it more secure against clever thieves.
The online interface has much the same aesthetic as the phone-side app, providing a slick orange-and-grey look that is pretty much self-explanatory as far as utilization is concerned. The main control center is the "commands" tab, while the rest provide tables of information downloadable in both PDF and Excel formats.
First we'll talk about the tabs that aren't "commands." One can download reports of call history, SMS history, bookmarks, web history, contacts, and transactions (between the online console and device) which are gathered on the basis of check-ins that can be scheduled to be any number of minutes apart from one another. GPS check-ins can be independently timed as well, however, the check-in information only updates once you access the online console. Each time a command is sent, the user is redirected to the transactions tab, which shows the status of the command as completed or incomplete.
Back at the "commands" tab, all of the on-demand actions are available here. First up is the lock option, which is a fairly standard operation, asking the user to create a password to unlock the screen.
Next up is the wipe command. This will wipe all user data, much like the wipe features we've seen before, so there's not much to talk about in that aspect.
The GPS location function, however, is very impressive. It not only displays the phone's current location, but the user can set start and end dates, causing the map to display a series of locations recorded over a period of days set by the user.
The alarm functionality left a lot to be desired -- activating this command causes a 1-minute, full-volume alarm to begin, but the bad news is that there's no button to turn it off. Of course, you can always just turn the volume down, effectively allowing you to ignore the alarm until it is over. While this may not be the most practical solution, it's the only way you can avoid listening to a screaming alarm for a solid minute.
If your phone is currently locked, you can change its password using the "change password" button - easy as that. There is also an option to turn on the phone's ringer, ensuring that your phone's captor can't silence the phone completely. This function is not exactly subtle, as it causes the familiar "beep" to occur, just as if you adjusted the phone's volume yourself.
The popup message feature is also a little different from other apps we've seen, triggering a rather noninvasive notification icon containing a message of the user's creation.
The redirect function is very sophisticated and impressive, allowing the user to forward calls and messages away from the lost phone, controllable based on direction of the call (incoming or outgoing), phone number, and where the call or message will go once redirected.
Also included is a rather secretive "call back" option, which will cause your phone to enable speakerphone and call another phone of your choosing. This is very impressive as it allows you to listen to your phone's surroundings.
Next is a remote block list, allowing you to block phone numbers from calls and SMS remotely. This may come in handy to frustrate a potential thief since you also have access to call and SMS history.
Finally is a remote SMS function which causes your phone to send an SMS to a number of your choosing.
Overall Overvi3w is a very strong app. It offers impressive features (both in the free and paid versions) and ease of use. It falls short in a couple of key areas however, which we'll outline below.
- Free Functionality - All the basic features you need can be had for free.
- Ease of Use/Aesthetic - The online console is well-designed, easy to use, and intuitive.
- Sophisticated Location Mapping - I was very impressed by the location tracking options, allowing the user to see location history over a custom selected time span.
- No Tablet Support - For as strong an app as it is, it still falls under my most common complaint with security apps- tablets are not supported. This is somewhat understandable however since many of the options involve SMS or phone functionality.
- No Root Presence - While the app can only be removed after a command from the online console, it won't survive a wipe.
- No SMS Controls - The app has no option to control a device remotely via SMS. A data connection is required.
While Overvi3w provides some very nice features for free, it falls short in some critical ways which leave me unconvinced to buy a subscription for $3.99/month.