DataVault Password Manager for iOS devices

Your personal data can never be too secure, especially when it’s on a device that’s with you everywhere you go.

DataVault Password Manager is a$10 app for both the iPhone and iPad that stores all of your bankaccount, credit card and log-in data, encrypting it using the AdvancedEncryption Standard (AES). DataVault has Mac and Windows clients, too,which it syncs with using MobileMe, WebDAV, WiFi and file sharing.

With so many different websites, web applications, and services, it’sdifficult to create strong passwords for each, remember them, and enterthem on an iPhone or iPad keyboard. DataVault tries to make this easyby storing all of your passwords, and generating secure ones, too.DataVault allows you to store almost any kind of data you want, butaccessing the app from Ascendorequires entering a password to keep out anyone who might be using yourphone.

DataVault tries to make managing and finding your data easy byorganizing it into hierarchical folders (such as “Business,” whichcontains “Inventory” and “Credit Cards”). DataVault comes pre-populatedwith a a number of folders and sub-folders, which helps show whatpeople can do with the app, but it’s also a bit overwhelming when youuse it for the first time. Nevertheless, the folders work well enoughfor organizing and finding data. One minor complaint with the searchfeature, though, is it only searches data titles, rather than withinthe item itself.

The app includes a large selection of templates for data, such as achequing account, credit card, login, and insuranceinformation. That helps make entering data a bit quicker.

Because DataVaulthas Mac and Windowsclients, the iOS app can sync with them. (Note that I didn’ttest the desktop clients for this review.) The app can sync over aWi-Fi network or a WebDAV server, if you use services like Box.net.This is a bit limiting, especially because the similar 1Password appwill sync over-the-air using a free Dropbox account.

Security risk?
I did encounter what I consider a security risk with DataVault. If Iwas using DataVault, switched to another app, and then switched back toit using iOS’s multitasking tray, the app shows whatever view was laston screen for a split-second before bringing up the password field.This is even worse on the iPad version because the screen lingers forso much larger. For an app whose entire point is securing data, that’snot good.

I found DataVault’s user interface frustrating, too, with some faultsmore glaring than others. The app appears to follow iOS convention, but it deviatesin maddening ways. For example, when you tap on a data item on aniPhone, the item’s detail view doesn’t slide in from the right-itsimply appears, without any animation. The detail view has what appearsto be a navigation bar at the top, but the back button-which should bean arrow-shaped button with a label that says what you’ll be broughtback to when you tap it-is a normal button that says “Back.” Oddly,when you do tap the back button, the previous view doesslide into place.

There are other oddities, too: after moving to an item’s detail view,then moving back, its row stays highlighted. Especially annoying for iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S users is thefact that DataVault’s icons are blurry on the Retina display.

While DataVault certainly works for its intended purpose-the odd bugaside-I didn’t find the app especially enjoyable to use. Otheralternatives-the aforementioned 1Password-may be worth yourconsideration instead.

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