Tablets and phones are meant to be personal devices but they rarely stay that way. They get handed around to show off photos, to watch videos, or to play games. With AppLock (free), you can take a little of stress out of parting with your Android by keeping certain apps locked up and others freely accessible. It should be a slam dunk, but this app is held up by some odd quirks.
Using AppLock is pretty straightforward. The main page is a list of all the apps on your device which can be locked with a toggle slider to the right. AppLock also lets you lock out certain actions like calls, installing or uninstalling apps, access to settings, and accessing the Google Play store. Buttons at the bottom let you search your apps or toggle everything on or off.
From the hidden right tray, you can access the Unlock Settings menu to change your PIN or switch to a pattern lock. We found the pattern lock to be much faster and easier when using.
When you attempt to perform a locked action or access a locked app, a screen appears prompting you to login. The screen doesn’t fully lock your device—you can easily navigate back to the home screen or access the navigation tray—but it does effectively keep people out of your apps.
You can adjust which apps you want locked on the fly, or create a profile to quickly secure your device. Supporting profiles is nice a feature, especially if you have kids who want to play on your device. When they want a shot at Colour Sheep, just flip the profile that locks them out of everything but a few games.
The app provides basic functionality for free, which includes locking apps and one profile. For 99 cents a month or $2.99 a year, you can unlock deeper features like time locks, a randomized keyboard, location-based locks, and other options.
Our main complaint with AppLock wasn’t that it didn’t perform as advertised—in fact, it did pretty well—but that it wasn’t clear about what it was doing. During setup, the app prompted us to upgrade for “advanced protection” without any explanation as to what that involved. It turned out that this simply added email recovery for my PIN, which is a worthy feature, but to get it we had to let the app download and install an extra module and grant both the module and the app Device Admin access.