The brawniest smart phones may be equipped to withstand a hearty flinging across the room, and the brainiest may be able to finesse your multimedia or autocorrect your photos, but few can do on their own what CodeWallet Pro and eWallet Professional (various versions) can to manage and secure your data in a central, locked-down location.
I'm not talking about one smart phone with separate notebook, word processing, e-mailing, and database programs that have been shrunk down from their original desktop formats to disco with your data. I'm talking about programs that have been made with mobility in mind, that regard themselves as serious guardians of very sensitive information. Whether they stand up to the task and whether you really need them are issues we'll get to. To begin, let's take a look at eWallet Professional and CodeWallet Pro (which shall henceforth simply be known as eWallet and CodeWallet).)
Organization and functionality
As far as a mobile app goes, the logic and design of both eWallet and CodeWallet are straightforward, and that's good. The programs essentially let you name a wallet (say, Work or Personal), and build a tree chart of categories--like Credit Cards and Travel Information--to organize information by type. Into each category goes a card, which is where the real information is stored. Choosing the card type, like Driver's License, calls up one of many templates that has a field tailored to the information most salient to the owner. Credit card data fields, for instance, include card provider and type, card number, PIN, expiration date, and so on.
Many card templates are practical--bank account, driver's license, vision prescription, calling card number, card info, combination lock, insurance information, software serial numbers. However, why anyone would need to password-protect his or her clothing size (eWallet) is beyond me.
Both eWallet and CodeWallet let you sub in icons for each organizational level, add notes and attachments like Excel Mobile spreadsheets, and customize settings, sounds, and graphics. Both apps are also password-protected, and export data and launch the phone to dial a number.
At this stage, the differences between the two appear slight, boiling down to interface, usability, minor functionalities, and some formatting. eWallet launches with a minitutorial and a password generator, for example. CodeWallet has triple the icons and lets you edit the text of a template's data fields. eWallet favors tables of cramped fields and displays customizations as card-level tabs, whereas CodeWallet employs a longer vertical list with access to customizations in the menu.
The rightly squeamish among you may fret and fidget over having all this data floating around, so CodeWallet and eWallet both require passwords each time you open the program, return after an idle period, or create a new category. You can assign each wallet its own password, a precaution for power users that translates into an extra degree of protection.
Both programs accept numeric passwords entered on the program's onscreen keypad or alphanumeric passwords entered through the handset's QWERTY keyboard--the latter is less apparent. In the security settings, users choose how long their programs should run idle before locking down.
From here, CodeWallet begins to trail. eWallet's security settings outnumber its rival's, additionally allowing users to customize the app's tolerance for failed password attempts. I currently have mine set to lock after three inactive minutes and bar access for 30 minutes after five incorrect attempts, but I could whittle down the inactive minutes and incorrect attempts or ratchet up the lock-out period.
eWallet's password generator is a bonus, though it's strangely only accessible on the card level and pastes onto the card itself, suggesting its purpose is for helping you brainstorm passwords for individual accounts, not for the program itself.
Finally, eWallet encrypts data at 256-bit RC4, where CodeWallet uses a weaker 128-bit RC4 encryption key.
Versions and pricing
eWallet Professional has versions for Windows Mobile, Palm, and Smartphone. CodeWallet runs on Windows Mobile devices. Both cost $20.
Should you get one?
These electronic wallets are certainly convenient, storing everything you need in one place. Whether you trust it or not is a matter of your personal comfort with mobile security. How adept are you at remembering iron-clad passwords? How much secret data are you willing to risk if someone were to crack the code?
While the differences between CodeWallet and eWallet's operations are mostly negligible, the gap in encryption strength tips the scales toward eWallet. Electronic wallet users should take extra precaution, starting with securing the mobile hardware and padding it with mobile antivirus programs. This article better explains how to secure your mobile phone.