Created by three students at USC, Lookout Mobile Security has quickly become one of the most trusted mobile security applications for Android devices. Lookout prides itself on consistently being the first company to identify new malware, and the app is continually updating its definition process to ensure you're always protected against the latest mobile threats. The company also added several innovative, useful features such as Signal Flare. Find out why this app is well worth $30 per year.
Setup and User Interface
Lookout attempts to make the setup process easy by taking you step-by-step through the initial process to get the service up and running. The first few screens show you how you can secure your data and device with Lookout, and prompts you to enable the Signal Flare feature.
From there, you either enter your existing account credentials or create a new Lookout account, which can be done from within the application. If you choose to upgrade to the premium version of Lookout, you'll also be treated to a screen that lets you enable or disable individual premium features. Finally, you'll be asked whether you want to enable the Mobile Threat Network, which sends bits of apps to Lookout for further analysis to determine whether these apps may be after your personal information.
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Once you've finished the setup process, you'll be taken to the main screen of the Lookout application, and the first malware scan will be performed. The initial scan takes anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes depending on the number of applications and files you have on your phone.
The top half of Lookout's home page provides a scrollable newsfeedlike overview of your device's security status, similar to what's achieved by swiping from left-to-right in Avast. We prefer this implementation slightly to Avast's, though both applications provide this information in a meaningful way for the user.
To make at-a-glance security even easier, Lookout will briefly display a "Everything is Okay" banner every time you venture to Lookout's home screen. Subcategories for Security, Backup, Missing Device, Safe Browsing and Privacy Advisor line the bottom half of the application, which provides more detail about your phone's current security status as it relates to these features and lets you run the scans manually.
Most security settings are handled via the settings menu, which is accessed by pressing the on-screen or hardware menu button on your phone (depending on manufacturer), and selecting "Settings." Finally, Lookout also includes a widget of sorts, which shows the latest activities in your newsfeed. Aside from that, clicking on the widget will launch the full application.
It took very little time to get Lookout Mobile Security running the way we wanted, and the setup process was intuitive. The app itself is very well-designed, and fits in nicely with the Holo UI design language Google implemented with Android Jelly Bean. In fact, Lookout is arguably the best-looking security application on the Android market, slightly besting Avast and Norton.
Detection and Performance
Lookout turned in a perfect performance on AV-Test's most recent malware detection analysis, successfully detecting 100 percent of all sample security risks sent to the test device. Lookout achieves this high rating by priding itself on detecting malware before it's ever an issue; the company claims that its analysts are the first in the world to detect new malware a staggering 40 percent of the time.
Lookout's application runs in the background on your Android device, and once you remove the app from being featured on your notification bar, you'll rarely notice it's running at all. To test its impact on your device's performance, we ran the AnTuTu benchmark test both with and without Lookout Mobile Security running. Our HTC One tested at 23,823 before we had Lookout installed, and 22,437 with Lookout installed and the malware scan running, suggesting little to no impact on performance.
While malware is a growing problem, the main threat devices face is being lost or stolen. In this area, Lookout is continually looking for new ways to get your device back should you ever misplace it. One relatively new feature is Lock Cam, which takes a picture with the front-facing camera whenever someone incorrectly enters a PIN or pattern three times and emails you the picture and location information to send to the authorities. Lookout also includes Data Backup, which backs up your call log, contacts and pictures (though, the latter is a premium feature) so you can restore them should you ever need to set up a new device.
After noting that dead batteries lead to many devices not being recovered, Lookout launched Signal Flare, which automatically notifies you of your device's location once the battery level reaches 10 percent. Before your device gets to that critical level, you can sound an alarm and display a message (with a reward, if you choose) on the screen with your contact information so people are able to return your device. Avast offers similar functionality, though Lookout's feature worked a bit better in our tests.
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From the settings menu, you can tell Lookout to schedule scans on a daily or weekly basis, and turn on file system scan to ensure your apps and files are malware-free. If you enable the Mobile Threat Network, Lookout can collect some nonidentifying information from apps and files that will improve Lookout's algorithm as it continually works to improve its detection services.
Like Avast, Lookout Mobile Security Premium features Privacy Advisor, which provides detailed information as to which apps have access to which phone permissions, so you can proactively manage your installed applications. Lookout will notify you of changes to app permissions, which is helpful for those of us who simply click Accept without reading manual Google Play updates.
The premium version of Lookout features Safe Browsing Mode, which scans visited websites for malware and phishing risks. You'll also find remote lock and wipe functionality, the ability to restore data to a new device from the Lookout Web portal, and automatic picture backup.
Remote Lock and Wipe is included in the premium version of Lookout and Norton, though this is offered as a free service in Kaspersky, Avast and AVG.
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Unlike Kaspersky, Lookout does not require a PIN be entered for users to perform a factory data reset on the device. Doing so essentially renders Lookout's anti-theft settings useless, as it requires the app to be installed for these settings to work. This can be avoided if users put a passcode or pattern unlock on their phone, though we'd like to see Lookout include this in their application.
Lookout's Web portal is as well-designed as the Android application, with a clean, minimal UI that puts features front and center. It's easily our favorite Web portal of any of the Android security programs, and features a minuscule learning curve so you can quickly accomplish whatever service you're looking to perform.
The home screen presents you with information about your device, and buttons on the main screen and along the side panel take you to additional features.
The Find My Device section will locate your phone if the device is active, and on this screen, you'll also be able to sound the siren to indicate your device is lost or stolen, remotely lock your phone, and wipe your Android should it be lost for good. Using these features was a straightforward process, and each worked perfectly.
The Backups and Restore tab houses all of your backed-up call logs, pictures, and contacts from your manual or scheduled restores. From here, you'll be able to restore the data to a new or found device, download your data to a PC, or delete unwanted data from Lookout's cloud, which is helpful for multiple restores. Again, each feature is intuitively designed and easy to use.
Finally, the Settings tab lets you manage your Lookout account, including canceling your premium subscription should you wish to do so, and the More Information tab will take you to Lookout's FAQ.
With a full set of features and continued dedication to innovation, Lookout stands as the crème de la crème of Android mobile security applications. It's well-designed, malware protection is top-notch, and the anti-theft services are the best we've come across. We also appreciate the privacy protection and helpful features such as Signal Flare. If you're concerned about the security of your Android device, you simply can't go wrong with Lookout Mobile Security.