The venerable password manager LastPass (Free download, $1 per month) has finally given its iPhone app a major overhaul. With a streamlined new look and interface changes in the style of iOS 7, the new LastPass lets you access, manage, and create unique passwords (and more!) wherever you are and sync them between all your devices. It’s still a bit clumsy, but that seems to be more of an issue with the limitations of iOS than problems with LastPass.
Starting Up and Web Browsing
Version three of LastPass does away with the confusing blankness of previous iterations, using semi-transparent overlays to explain each aspect of the new interface and guide you through setup. If you already have a LastPass Premium account, you just log in but creating a new account will require creating a long master password to encrypt your password vault. Creating one password strong enough to secure all your passwords is tricky, so be sure to read our tips on creating strong passwords.
The biggest change is with the built-in browser, which lets you automatically login to websites from your Vault. The browser’s always been present in LastPass, but was buried inside menus. Now, webpages take center stage, while the password vault is accessible by tapping the red LastPass logo on the upper left. The box at the top searches all the entries in your LastPass Vault, as well as the Internet, all at once. It’s not as an ingenious a blending of Vault and browser as it is on Android, but it’s far better than before.
Easy access to the browser is great because LastPass can auto-fill passwords and forms—just like it does on the desktop—within its own browser. If you have more than one login for a website, tap and hold the asterisk next to the field and LastPass will pull up all the appropriate entries from your Vault. Tapping the three-lined button in the upper right lets you generate new passwords, or save all the information you’ve entered thus far as a new entry for your Vault.
It’s important to note that the app and all these features are only available for Premium users. The free desktop version has tons of features, though slightly less than the Premium version.
Creating Passwords, And More
The old version of LastPass on iPhone was marginally better designed than its Android counterpart, but now the tables have turned. While both have received major updates, the iPhone version of LastPass is still a bit clumsy, particularly when creating passwords.
Your Vault is broken down into three main categories: sites, secure notes, and form fills. Secure notes can be any data you’d like encrypted, including attached photos and audio messages. These are secured with AES-256 encryption so you can sure you’ll be the only one seeing them—which is good, considering that LastPass has templates like “social security card.” If for some reason you need to automatically populate a form with your personal information, fill forms has your back.
Sites is where most of your passwords are stored, though the name is a slightly misleading holdover from the service’s desktop roots. Tapping on an entry lets you copy your username or password, launch the site in the LastPass browser, or edit the entry.
Annoyingly, you have to exit the Vault to generate a new password and enter a URL for the resulting password. This focus on URLs and websites is outdated on mobile platforms, where users deal primarily with apps. The password generator includes options for length, characters used, and “pronounceability” which creates nonsensical but memorable passwords.
I liked that the Android version allowed me to edit the entry for a newly created password directly from the password creation screen. On iPhone, I’m forced to enter a reminder into a URL field, exit the password generator, and then search my vault to add things like usernames and the actual name of the service. It’s a tedious process, and LastPass should really strive to recreate the Android workflow as much as possible. That said, I can’t find a password generator in Dashlane’s iPhone app.
However, I did like that the new template for password entries puts the “name” field at the top, making it easier to set up an entry for an app or other non-website. You can also assign passwords to different groups or create a new group—which is a new feature. Each entry has a host of other options, like requiring a password to view.
The limitations of iOS means that us iPhone users won’t get the (very odd) LastPass keyboard or the excellent Copy Notifications enjoyed on Android. But LastPass does have one trick up its sleeve: mobile Safari bookmarklets that automatically enters information from LastPass into websites. LastPass has told me that they consider this an extra feature for power users, and the vague instructions included in the app’s settings seem to support this.
If you manage to actually install it correctly, however, the bookmarklets work remarkably well. When I navigated to a site that asked for my login info, I just fired up the AutoLogin bookmarklet and LastPass did the rest. Well, mostly. It never filled in my username, just my password, which I presume to be a security feature.
LastPass Premium for desktop has a wide array of powerful options that thrill the security-minded. It can, for instance, easily work with secondary authentication devices like fingerprint scanners and USB keys. You can also organize your vault entries into categories, and then assign categories to certain identities, limiting how many of your passwords are visible at a time.
While the iPhone app can work with your identities, it can’t create one-time passwords, or share passwords with other people. Power users might miss these features, but I use LastPass many times a day from my iPhone 5c without issue.
You Need This
No offense to humans, but we’re pretty terrible at inventing unique, complex passwords for every single online service which requires a login. Instead, many people recycle logins, but this means that a breach at one website can trigger a domino effect across all the other services which share that information. Even after they’ve been encrypted, weak passwords like “password1234″ are the first to be cracked by attackers who steal login information from websites. Password managers can mitigate these nightmare scenarios.
I was impressed by how LastPass for Android integrates into my workflow so seamlessly, and disappointed with how the iPhone version feels in comparison. The extra taps aren’t world-ending, and LastPass definitely beats out Dashlane whose app is well designed but lacks critical features like a password generator. Despite my quibbles, LastPass will take 4.5 stars and an Editors’ Choice for password managers on iPhone.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc