In an effort to keep all your passwords both safe and convenient, while also protecting your web surfing experience, Symantec has created Norton Identity Safe Beta, an app that allows users to store their login information on their computer and mobile device, while enjoying a safe browsing experience on both.

Many of you may be aware that there are several apps that perform this function already. SplashID Safe, Keeper Password & Data Vault, and others provide a very similar service, but Norton ID Safe brings a couple of key differences to the table.

First off, Norton's solution not only offers a Mac/PC element, but actually requires users to be running the service on their computer to use the mobile application. The desktop client is – for the most part – unobtrusive, and genuinely convenient. Besides that, it's totally free, unlike some alternatives' desktop additions.

Second, Norton ID Safe has a polished, intuitive interface that makes it exceedingly easy to use. This is an important point not only as a matter of taste, but also because (like similar solutions), Norton ID Safe requires users to select the app as their default web browser.  This is mainly because the default Android browser does not allow for integration with apps like Norton's ID Safe. As I said though, the app has a great interface (arguably easier to use than the stock browser), and users shouldn't have any trouble adapting to it as a new browser.

A Closer Look

Upon booting up ID Safe for the first time, users will be asked to log into their Norton Account. If you have Norton Internet Security or Norton 360 Installed, it's likely that you already have this information ready, as both come with ID Safe baked in. After logging in, the app offers users the option of "unlocking" saved accounts and passwords, which will require another password.

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Once you've unlocked your accounts and passwords, ID Safe will show you a list of passwords you've saved thus far, grabbing them from your Norton ID Safe account online. After this, you're ready to start browsing the web. The browser uses a simple interface, with something like an action bar at the bottom of the screen, allowing for quick commands including forward, private browsing, bookmarks, and pages. You may be wondering what the "pages" button does. ID Safe has an incredibly simple method of handling "tabbed" browsing, which is to store thumbnails of all the pages you have open, allowing for quick switching between tabs.

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Private Browsing is exactly what it sounds like, allowing users to surf the web without their activity being stored in history. ID Safe also allows users to spot-check any page they're on for a safety rating. The rating dialog makes use of a huge, easy-to-understand rating icon that will tell you whether the page is "okay" or not. This can be helpful for questionable pages, but I don't find myself spot-checking pages that often. The corollary of this function in Norton's desktop client is a continuous monitor, which will make sure that every page you browse is safe, alerting you if there are any problems.

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Users can also block pages, manage downloads, and for some reason select text all from the settings menu. As for browser performance, I started using ID Safe without any expectations, and was pleasantly surprised by its snappy speed. I may go so far as to say that ID Safe's browser is faster than stock in many instances.

Final Thoughts

Norton ID Safe Beta is a well put together app, no question. The service it provides is polished, well thought out, and well executed. Its interface is easy to understand, and looks great. All of this being said, the real question becomes whether or not it has a leg up on the competition. The answer to that question (in my mind, at least) is yes. There's nothing incredibly different about the service other than the Norton name and the overall finesse of the service, but I think that finesse is enough to give it an extra kick. I'm also looking forward to seeing how Symantec improves the service, considering how well it functions in its Beta state.

Before trying ID Safe, I would say that an app that essentially keeps your passwords stored, safe, and convenient didn't sound like the most practical thing in the world, but after spending some time with the app, my mind has been changed. If you're looking for a secure browser replacement that manages your passwords and account info with the prowess we've come to expect from Symantec, Norton ID Safe is definitely worth trying. Luckily, Android users can grab the beta freely over at the ID Safe Website.