CNET Editors' review
The bottom line: Lookout's broad range of effective mobile device-specific security features are coupled with a minimal performance hit, making it a must-have app.
Update: This review was updated on January 26, 2011 with revised benchmarks in the Performance section. Accordingly, the score has been raised from 4.5 stars to 5 stars.
Review: Antivirus prevention isn't anywhere near as necessary for Android devices as it is for Windows computers just yet. As Android's market share grows, though, so will the attacks. More importantly for the here and now, Lookout Mobile Security provides key security options that are unique to the mobile market. Along with the antivirus and anti-malware tech, there's a lost and stolen phone locator service, an application privacy adviser, and a backup service.
Lookout's installation is smooth and simple. The free account registration requires a valid e-mail address, which is important because several of the app's features require communication with the user.
As a security app, it's not surprising that Lookout will grab with some fairly deep hooks into your Android device. Lookout has permission rights to your personal information, messages, location, network communication, accounts, storage, phone calls, hardware controls, and system tools.
Lookout's interface is helpfully simple to navigate. At the top right of the app, a status notification tells you if you've got security problems or if, "Everything is OK." Below that, the four main features are presented as buttons. Tap one to reveal a button that will run the feature, if it's the Security scan, the Privacy scan, or the Backup.
The Missing Phone option is less intuitive. It merely tells you to go to myLookout.com to locate, lock, scream, or wipe your phone. The scream option sets off a high-pitched alarm to annoy phone thieves and alert others. Of course, you're not going to require any of those options if you know where your phone is. But it's a good reminder that the feature is there, even if it's only for Web use.
You can access Lookout from the app or a notification bar icon that also informs you of your status. The Settings hardware button reveals a reasonable although not robust selection of options to configure, presented in the standard and familiar Android style.
Features and support
Lookout's features are robust and comprehensive, at least for what's known about the still-developing field of mobile security.
It's difficult at the moment to verify whether the antivirus and anti-malware feature actually does anything, since there are few if any labs that test mobile antivirus and anti-malware apps. At this point, we know it's there, and we know that Lookout says it does proactive things to keep you from getting infected. Those infections are not something you're likely to come across, so we'll just acknowledge the feature and file it under "incomplete."
Lookout has provided reviewers with access to a demo malicious app, which gets blocked by Lookout when you attempt to install it. Though the app worked in that instance, that kind of test is hardly verifiable. However, Android-based threats do exist, and as they occur with more frequency, it's highly likely that standards for testing security apps will emerge.
The other security features in the app are quite effective. Most notable among them is the phone tracker, which uses your GPS to track your phone's location. Again, if it's been lost or stolen, you can log in to MyLookout.com to find your phone. From its online interface, you can also set off the screaming alarm designed to annoy your phone's thief enough to abandon it, as well as remotely wipe or lock the phone.
The MyLookout site is also where you can initiate a backup and restore, run a security scan, and toggle settings, although those features can be run directly from the phone. The site contains logs of its activity that you can browse to keep tabs on the app's behavior. The logs are quite detailed: for example, the app scan log will tell you how many apps were searched.
The Backup feature covers your contacts, photos, and your call log, and is encrypted for security during transfer. Restoring allows a full restoration of all backed-up data as well as granular control over which specific calls, photos, and contacts are restored.
The Privacy adviser rounds up all the permissions from your apps and lets you know which apps have access to the different parts of your phone. This is an excellent, simple tool for checking out what your apps are doing, because, let's face it: when installing a new app, most people just aren't reading deep into the permissions list.
Another smart feature of the app is the ability to control which of the modules you use. You can toggle all four of the main features on or off, which is great for users who prefer to use alternate backup options, for example.
Like many other apps that rely on a free and clear signal to function properly, Lookout's backup and locator features can fail when signal-throttling apps, such as JuiceDefender, interfere with Lookout. What's sorely missed here is a notification, either by e-mail or natively on the phone, that warns you that there's been a failure to communicate.
There are some key features that Lookout only makes available in its premium upgrade, which costs $2.99 per month or $29.99 for a one-year license. The Privacy adviser, photo backup, call backup, data transfer to a new phone, remote wipe, remote lock, and premium support are all restricted to the premium upgrade.
As noted earlier, Lookout's performance is hard to gauge on a purely antivirus-based scale. What we did look at is how the phone start-up times are affected by the app. When looking at "cold booting" the phone, in which the phone is completely shut off, started, and then timed until the 3G connection has been established, the Droid 2 we tested without Lookout averaged 58.46 seconds to boot over three attempts. With Lookout installed, the phone averaged 1 minute, 9.83 seconds to boot over three attempts. It would definitely be an improvement if the app caused less of an impact on a phone's start-up time, as an addition of nearly 10 seconds can feel much longer on a phone.
When tested on a different handset following the same procedure, Lookout's performance was much improved. When tested on a LG Optimus U running Android 2.2, the phone took an average of 51.12 seconds to start up over three cold boots when Lookout was running. Without Lookout, the phone started in an average of 48.31 seconds. An impact of about two and a half seconds on startup time is completely respectable, and indicates a minimal impact on the phone. It also highlights how different hardware, different app installations, and different cellular networks can affect a phone's boot time.
Lookout will also add a couple seconds to the installation of any app, as it scans newly installed apps to ensure that they're safe. Depending on which apps are running in the background, this can be inconsequential or feel like tedium in a handset. It's an essential part of Lookout's protective behaviors, although that doesn't mean we wouldn't like to see it shortened.
Overall, Lookout's performance impact on Android's speed is the app's weak point. It will improve as hardware improves, although for now it seems to be a necessary evil for the app's features.
Lookout adds a necessary security net to your Android phone. Even if you disable the antivirus protection, its other features make it more than worthwhile by providing essential features not otherwise available in one package. Either the free version or the premium upgrade is worth having, since both contribute significantly to keeping your phone and your data on it safe.
Lookout is a security technology company dedicated to making the Post-PC world safer for everyone. We develop software that secures personal devices, protects the BYOD workforce and defends mobile infrastructure and networks. To address the unique security challenges of the Post-PC era, we take a different approach, tackling security as a data problem. We've created the world's largest mobile data set and combined it with the power of our 40 million users to build a powerful cloud-based protection platform. Lookout was founded by John Hering, James Burgess and Kevin Mahaffey, three mobile security researchers who met at the University of Southern California. The trio's early security research led them to conclude that threats to mobile users would grow rapidly. Today Lookout is a rapidly growing company based in San Francisco, California. Lookout is funded by leading investors, including Khosla Ventures, Trilogy Equity Partners, Accel Partners and Index Ventures.
What's new in this version:
- Completely Redesigned: Our battery friendly app has a fresh, sleek design that makes it easier to find what you're looking for.
- Activity Feed: A dashboard that allows you to see how your phone and data are being protected from mobile threats, identity theft and financial fraud.
- Signal Flare: An added protection against lost phones that automatically saves your device's location when your battery gets low, improving the chance of getting your phone back. Lock ... See all new features
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All versions:3.7 stars
out of 31 votes
Current version:0 stars Be the first to review this product
My rating:Write review
"Mobile location accuracy is hit or miss"
Version: Lookout Mobile Security 8.0
I tend to try many add-on apps, then delete what I don't like and need later, and I have not suffered any obvious effect of virus or spyware, so it's Antivirus feature must have done its job. I receive an email alert every time my cellphone battery dropped so low that I can't turn it on without recharging first. This could be helpful if I lost my phone and hasn't notice the loss yet. Then again, I don't often have my laptop with me when I don't have my cellphone. In fact I only notice this when I check my email on my laptop.
Shortly after I installed the app, about 9 months ago, I enabled GPS and gave apps the ability to locate my cellphone using wifi and cell-tower location. The app places me within half a mile away. SInce that would normally tell me where I've been, it helps. But if dropped my cellphone after a busy day in a park, that's quite a lot of space to search. Normally, I have GPS and location services to conserve battery. I tried the location service again from a library about 4.8 miles from my home. I had to move my phone closer to the window and retry for the location service to find me. This time it located me about 1/2 mile from my home, or 4.8 miles from where I really was!
My idea of a reliable backup is one I can pre-schedule and performed automatically without a change in my daily routine. Since my cellphone battery is barely sufficient for a day and a half of normal use, I can't see letting a schedule burn up my cell minutes and battery charge. Instead, I choose to use Dropbox to synchronize important files in encrypted format with my laptop which get backed up weekly. So, I don't know how well Lookout's backup function works. Currently, I don't have a lot of confidence that I can locate my phone (should I drop it) before someone finds it and decides to keep it.
"Has Lookout's TRACKING FEATURE "Improved"??!!"
Version: Lookout Mobile Security 6.10
User-friendly! Light! Easy to manage! Since crap-ware apps r now dropping from the sky & competition for high-end phs has brought the thieves onboard, the chances of getting our cells stolen or a mobile-virus has greatly improved from a yr ago ..So, I've decided to cash-out for some serious mobile anti-virus protection w/ top notch tracking features! Lookout may or may not be our family's choice
Lookout's tracking feature pointed to the wrong address, last yr when I tested this software! Matter of fact, it was 2 blks off ..therefore, if there were a thief, he would have gotten a free $500 mobile ph w/ crap-ware installed for security!!
So many reviews since I first reviewed this security app last year ..but not one positive review here explains in "detail" how functional, or rather how reliable, is Lookout's tracking feature! Did it IMPROVE?? B/c it was waaay off the grid in Nov 2011 & basically crap-ware since mobile viruses were unheard of & just another sales pitch. Any logical adult (or responsible parent), that has done their home-work know the accuracy of the tracking feature in any security soft-ware isour main concern ..and most important. Mainly b/c chances of consumers catching malicious malware on a cell exist BUT dang near close to nil .. especially when compared to losing a mobile & our teens along w/ it.
"Saved my Life!"
Version: Lookout Mobile Security 6.10
reliable, always workin for you in the background.
No cons but then im not a tech geek
I had to reset my phone back to factory reset because it was overloaded and having issues. I thought I would lose my contacts but look out had my contacts, my photos and videos all in my account. I went to when Id opened the FREE account to get my login info. Went on there on a whim and everything was there. All I had to do was click a button "restore to phone" and my phone has everything back minus the unecessary downloads. Even my songs were restored to the phone. I almost cried and Im serious
"No True Phone Contact Backup"
Version: Lookout Mobile Security 6.10
Great lost device features for locking, alarm, and location.
Only backs up Google synched contacts. Lost all my phone contact except for 2 after a factory reset. I've never synched my contacts with Google. There is nothing in the instructions that indicated that this was the case. I only found out when I tried to restore my backup after a factory reset. Totall unacceptable.
This is a great "lost device" application but the backup (or lack thereof) is unacceptable. If you want real backup for phone contacts use something else or you will be very sorry. Fortunately, I also was using McAfee Wave Secure and all my contacts were recovered.
Version: Lookout Mobile Security 6.10
Good remote wipe and tracking features (in paid version only)
Outllok is In Cahoots with phone manufacturers and network carriers.
Their response to the Carrier IQ is all corporate gobbledygook. This is a company that is capturing your information, including all your keystrokes, without your consent and with no way of stopping it, but the Outlook Software not only didn't detect it, but when notified of it, claimed it was not malware, because Carrier IQ had relations with the phone manufacturers and carriers. Makes you wonder whose side Outlook is on.
"Tested it on my new Samsung Galaxy 2"
Version: Lookout Mobile Security 6.9
The screaming sound off to find a lost phone "in my house" worked fine. East download. Easy to understand. Easy to use
It gave me the wrong location for lost or stolen mobile "outside of my home"! Uses Google Maps to locate a lost or stolen mobile phone and it did get me 9 blks closer to my phone then T-Mobile's Security software, my mobile ph carrier, but it was still 3 blks off. And unlike T-Mobile it didnt provide an address along w/ the location-area immediately (even tho location was wrong).
It's alright but I prefer something that locates our mobile phones outside of our homes accurately such as an iPhone 4S app
Version: Lookout Mobile Security 6.7
Feature limited. Limited functionality if you opt for the free version.
I recommend Webroot over both Lookout and Norton's Mobile Security great functionality and easy to install - no crashes.
"Could be better"
Version: Lookout Mobile Security 6.6.2
Nice tools to have
Feature limited unless you buy the full version
There has to be something else out there... Even AVG would do better.
"Competent and intuitive, but how do you know it works?"
Version: Lookout Mobile Security 6.6.2
Easy to install, very clear and attractive user interface, great features. The phone finder works very well and will be useful some day I'm sure.
Apart from virus tests such as EICAR, how does one know virus and malware protection actually works?
How does one know the "wipe" feature would actually work in an emergency?
I share the view of other users that I feel more secure with this app installed, but I'm not perfectly sure why I should. Also, like other users, I paid $29.95 for a full year's subscription because I felt it was a good encouragement for the developer, but I'm not perfectly sure why I did!
"Daily protection from malware&located my missing phone"
Version: Lookout Mobile Security 6.3
Makes me more comfortable about loading apps since they're being checked, can locate misplaced phone with GPS or by having it send an audible/flashing alarm
None that I have found
It happened. I could not find my phone. I was getting ready to panic when I remembered I had this app loaded. I logged into their website and clicked on the locate phone button. There is was...right in my house! Phew! At least I knew it was in my house...but hey, it has this "scream" feature so I hit that button. A few seconds later I heard a loud alarm that sounded a much like a police siren. I could also hear it vibrating and as I got closer, I could see a flashing light coming from the camera's flash. I had been preparing for a meeting and had silenced the phone. Because of that and its odd location, I mat not have found it for quite some time. Nice feature and it works.
I also like the peace of mind knowing that Lookout is scanning new apps that I'm installing. I realize that there are not many threats yet, but I've heard of a few bad apps and I'm glad Lookout is checking for those that are known.
I don't really expect I'd need the remote lock or wipe features and the free capabilities have served me well enough, but I'm upgrading to premium to support development of this great program. Thanks for providing such a feature rich free version.
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