What is an applock and do you really need one?

Having an app lock can be useful. It’s good for security and it’ll keep people out of your business. However, like most security concerns, having an applock isn’t always necessary. In fact, in most situations, you probably don’t actually need one.

So what is an applock? Good question. Let’s explore what an applock is, what it does, and whether or not you need one.

How does an applock work featured image

What is an applock?

An applock is a security feature that sits above your other apps. It prevents access to your apps without a password. For instance, if you have an applock on Facebook, people can’t get into your Facebook app without the password. It works a lot like a lock screen on your phone. People can’t enter your phone without the proper password. An applock does that, except for individual apps.

There is a bit of confusion around the subject. That’s mostly because every operating system is a little different. Most desktop operating systems don’t have one installed by default. Likewise, most mobile operating systems don’t either. iOS is the only exception to the rule. You can set up restricted access to apps through the General Settings. It’s not something that generally comes with whatever operating system you’re using. Most operating systems require you to download a third party app to get this functionality.

That’s it, really. The premise is extremely simple. You set up the applock for the apps you want to keep private. From that point forward, entering those apps requires a password of some sort. It can be a good way to keep prying eyes out of your social media, your kids out of whatever app store you have, and keep friends out of your photos.

iOS applock built-in

Where do I get an applock?

It really depends on what operating system you’re using. There are a bunch of applocks in the Google Play Store for Android phone owners. iOS has one already, but there are apps in the App Store as well. Desktop operating systems don’t really have one in place. Generally speaking, if you know the password for your computer, then you don’t really have to focus so much on security. It’s harder to steal a laptop than it is to steal a phone.

That said, there are a couple of applocks in the Microsoft Store, iTunes, and whatever app installer you use on Linux. It’s really just a matter of finding them. From there, you just download them. Once installed, you set it up to lock the apps you want. Then it just works. They really aren’t too difficult to find. Just search your local app store for them. For iOS users, look around your Settings app and it should be there.

We can’t stress enough that the only OS with decent applocks is Android. Microsoft has admin privileges as does Linux and Mac. iOS has an applock built-in. Really, that’s it. Third party apps on those platforms won’t perform as well as the stuff that you already have access too.

Applock - iOS restrictions

Do I really need an applock?

Now we get to the meat and potatoes of this post. Applocks can be effective in certain situations. Let’s quickly outline those:

When do you need an applock:

  1. People who have kids should probably get one. That’s especially true if your kids use your phone for various activities like watching YouTube or playing kids games. Set up the applock right and you can keep your kids out of your camera, gallery, social media, banking apps, and even out of your app store to prevent unwanted purchases.
  2. People who share a single device can probably use one as well. Sharing a device among a single family or group of roommates may warrant a little security. You don’t want your roommate getting in and messing with your game files. As a parent, you probably want to keep your kids from buying a bunch of stuff in the app store with your credit card.
  3. Any situation where you don’t want someone snooping on your phone. Sometimes this is for innocent reasons. Sometimes it’s not. We’re not here to judge you. An applock is a great way to keep people out of specific apps. Especially for things like banking apps, social media, messaging apps, your photo gallery, and similar apps.

When you don’t need an applock:

  1. Pretty much any other situation other than the ones described above. Just set a good lock screen (PIN, pattern, fingerprint, whatever). That’ll keep people out of your business far more effectively than an applock.

Here’s the thing, folks. Applocks aren’t that effective. Hackers can bypass them relatively easily. They’re really just another app running on your device for most operating systems. iOS is a notable exception. That applock is at the system level and harder to bypass. However, on most other devices, it’s not all that difficult.

Thus, you shouldn’t depend on it as a main form of security. Most mobile devices have fingerprint locks now. Having a functioning lock screen with a PIN, password, or fingerprint lock makes your device infinitely safer than any applock. It’s really good for keeping the kids out of the Play Store or keeping your friend out of your mobile game. However, that’s all it’s really good for. You should have stronger security measures in place. A persistent thief can break an applock without too much of a hassle.

Wrap up

Applocks can be useful. However, it’s really easy to overstate their security and usefulness. They’ll keep an inexperienced, non-tech savvy person out of a few apps. That’s about all you should be using it for. Any other situation and you risk compromising your private data, your photos, your money, and your personal life. Trust us, put up a good lock screen with a PIN, pattern, or fingerprint. It’s safer that way.

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