Lookout fires off Signal Flare in big update

Lookout Mobile Security refreshes its protection with a new interface optimized for Android 4.0, a rogue dialer guard, and a breadcrumb tracker for devices with low power.

A new look for Lookout Mobile (pictures)

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Staying ahead of the curve has been a hallmark of Lookout Mobile Security (download), one of the few Android-only security companies to gain a loyal fanbase on Google's mobile platform, and today they've released a major update.

The key feature improvements in the refreshed Android app are a new feature for tracking lost phones with low battery and a dialer-scanner to prevent Dialer app attacks like the one that reared its head in September. The threat was no mere digital crank call. Had you tapped the link and dialed the malicious number, it could remotely wipe your phone.

The Dialer scanner, now called Safe Dialer, asks you if you'd like to scan the phone number for safety the first time you tap a phone number link from another app. If you set it as the default, it will automatically scan the number to make sure that it's not a malicious attack hiding behind a tel: link.

While Safe Dialer is important for purely security reasons, Signal Flare addresses what happens when you lose a phone with low battery. When the phone hits a low battery threshold, it will start sending out a GPS signal, similar to dropping breadcrumbs behind you so you can find your way out of the forest. It will notify your account at Lookout.com so that you can track the phone's last known location, even with a dead battery.

Of course, your phone might have been picked up and moved from its last known location, but at least you'll have an idea of where it was when the battery went dead.

The new Lookout app design showcases its security activity in a feed on the app's landing page, which makes it easy to follow how it's protecting you.

(Credit: Lookout Mobile Security)

The new interface is a big change for Lookout. When you jump into the app, it shows a live feed of your security-related activity. This includes scans of URLs visited in the default browser, apps scanned, changes in app permissions, and personal data backed up.

Each section of the app has been redesigned, too. When you jump into Security, for example, it shows a list of recently scanned apps. An icon to the right of each scanned app lets you manually scan it on the fly, and in Backup it shows you your last backed up contact, call, and photo (if you've opted for the Premium version.) The Missing Device feature, meanwhile, shows a real-time map of where it thinks your device is.

Settings has been tweaked so people who want advanced controls now have more options. This is also where you can activate the aforementioned Signal Flare, or opt-in to Lookout's anonymous data contribution. This is more polite than many other Windows and Android apps, which you must actively opt out of.

This is a solid update for Lookout, providing some useful features to people who use it, and ought to keep it competitive in a growing and fast-moving market.

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