iPhone security may sound like a contradiction in terms to those who believe that being part of the Apple ecosystem means guaranteed safety, but, believe me: There are real threats to your iPhone out there.
The biggest threat any smartphone user is likely to face is loss and theft, which is why Lookout’s iPhone app is so interesting. While handy on its own, it becomes a powerful anti-theft tool when paired with an Apple Watch.
But if you don’t have Apple’s high-end smartwatch, you won’t be able to take advantage of the best features.
Keep a LookoutThe Lookout app is available as a free download from the Apple app store, and I had no trouble installing it on my iPhone 6.
Setup took only a few seconds, and an included tutorial showed off all the features of the app.
To get the full Lookout experience, you’ll want to install the app on your Apple Watch, as well.
Though Lookout is free, there is also a premium subscription version available as well.
For $2.99 a month, Lookout grants access to the Theft Alerts feature, but more on that later.
Once installed, Lookout pretty much keeps to itself until something happens to your phone.
But I do really like that in addition to a tutorial, the app lets you demo some of its anti-theft features. Most security apps are installed and then forgotten until something goes wrong.
I’d like to see more security apps train users how to take immediate action and understand the tools at their disposal.
Lookout for Find My iPhoneWith a focus on keeping your iPhone backed up and in your possession, Lookout’s main competition in this space comes from Apple itself.
Apple has offered a service called Find My iPhone, which lets you locate a lost phone. You’ can see your phone’s last known position and, if it can still be contacted, how much power remains in the battery. You can also use Find My iPhone to remotely wipe your iPhone, a feature that only Apple can provide for its phones.
Find My iPhone also features Lost Mode, which goes further than even most Android security apps toward securing a lost device. When you place your phone in Lost Mode, the device is locked and all incoming alerts are suppressed.
That way, a thief can’t use your phone or see information being sent to you by other people. Lost Mode also suspends any credit or debit cards you’ve paired with your phone, ensuring that neither your phone nor the information on your phone, can be used to make fraudulent purchases.
The Lookout website also lets you take action on a lost or stolen phone. You can see your phone’s current or last known location, and send a message to the phone. Lookout has always been a focused on smart user design in the security space, and their website is an excellent example of this.
Without Lookout, you can sync your Contacts and backup your iPhone on iCloud (or backup directly to a computer). With iCloud, your information is also fully available online. You can log in to the iCloud website, and view all your contacts and anything stored in iCloud Drive.
Even your photos can be safely stored on Apple’s servers. Lookout also offers a backup solution, but is restricted to just your Contacts. You can, however, access these remotely through the Lookout website.
Lookout can’t match these features, or the ones included in many online backup services, but it does a few things that Apple doesn’t.
For example, its Signal Flare function sends out an alert when the battery gets low, telling you the phone’s last known location. Premium subscribers get access to Theft Alerts, which are automatically generated emails that trigger when your SIM card is removed or your phone is put in Airplane Mode.
It’s a more proactive approach, but as someone who puts their phone into Airplane Mode simply to reset his cellular connection, I could see this getting a little annoying.
Since Find My iPhone comes from Apple, you might expect that it would be tightly integrated with the Apple Watch.
Strangely it’s not, but the Lookout app is. When you open the Lookout Apple Watch app, you see an indicator showing how far your Apple Watch is from your iPhone.
As the distance increases, the indicator changes color, before finally alerting you that you’ve moved out of range of your phone.
The idea is that you’ll notice that you left your phone somewhere, or that it has been removed from your person.
If your phone is already out of range, the Apple Watch app shows its last known location on a handy map with an approximate address.
It’s a great idea, and shows the clever problem solving that Lookout has displayed in the past. However, I did notice that the map on the Apple Watch was just an empty grid, perhaps because I’d never used it before.
I really like that when I walk away with my phone and not my watch, I get an alert on my phone, too.
That’s really handy.
I couldn’t find any means offered by Apple to secure an Apple Watch, though the Apple Watch can induce your phone into making a ping sound. Weirdly, the alert on my iPhone revealed a hidden Scream button when swiped that failed to elicit even a peep from my Apple Watch.
The developer explained that this appears because the Apple Watch mirrors notifications from the iPhone, and the developers wanted to put the scream function close at hand on the watch. Lookout hopes to make this clearer in future versions.
Lookout also includes features more typically seen in mobile antivirus. It claims to be able to monitor for malicious activity, check if your phone is jailbroken, and see if your phone has the latest updates from Apple. On the one hand, it’s good to have as much insight into your phone’s operation as possible. On the other hand, Apple has built a reputation for security on its app store.
And I also find it highly unlikely that your iPhone could be jailbroken without your knowledge.
Well in HandWith the introduction of Apple Watch integration, Lookout makes a compelling argument for its iPhone app.
The proximity alerts it provides can keep you from losing your phone, or your Apple Watch.
The Theft Alert emails might be a touch overzealous, but they are more proactive than Apple’s solutions, which require the user to not only take action but to have properly set up the phone in order to do so.
In the end, security companies continue to struggle with Apple’s platform, primarily because of the operating system’s restrictions, many of which are, in themselves, security measures.
But if you’re a forgetful Apple Watch owner, the free version of Lookout will certainly come in handy.