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Review: 1Password 4.5 brings a mature security app into the world of iOS 7

Marco Tabini | April 23, 2014
In the past couple years, apps that store secure data on a Mac or iOS device have become a pretty common sight; the need for some kind of "secure vault" where you can stash everything from passwords to credit card numbers has become so prevalent, in fact, that Apple even built the ability to do so right into OS X Mavericks with iCloud Keychain.

In the past couple years, apps that store secure data on a Mac or iOS device have become a pretty common sight; the need for some kind of "secure vault" where you can stash everything from passwords to credit card numbers has become so prevalent, in fact, that Apple even built the ability to do so right into OS X Mavericks with iCloud Keychain.

Despite that increasingly crowded marketplace, AgileBits's 1Password has managed to remain one of the most popular — and best — solutions to this particular brand of problems by providing its users with a consistently superior experience, a streak the company evidently hopes to continue with the latest release of their iOS app.

When less (paint) is more

The most obvious change in 1Password 4.5 is a completely redesigned user interface that brings the app in line with iOS 7's look and feel. As is often the case when software gets a fresh coat of paint to match Apple's latest design guidelines, the new interface feels lighter and cleaner than its predecessor, with lots of little details that make its use a pleasure.

In particular, AgileBits's designers have managed to strike a good balance between form and function, providing a clean user interface in which all the useful capabilities are immediately available at the user's fingertips. This results in a clean, efficient, and pleasant experience, regardless of whether you're approaching the app for the first time or have been using it for a while.

Even better, rather than attempting to invent a new language, the design borrows heavily from Apple's own paradigms, so that you find elements of various built-in interfaces — for example, the identity screen that looks like iOS's own contact card — interspersed throughout the app. This makes 1Password feel familiar from the outset, which, of course, translates into a more efficient user experience.

Browsing around

Once you're a 1Password user, the built-in browser rapidly becomes your most-used app feature, since the alternative would be to painstakingly (and painfully) copy your usernames and passwords into your browser.

With version 4.5, AgileBits has made a few changes to the browser, but, luckily, decided to keep it relatively simple and barebones. The main improvement here is the introduction of a "unified autofill" panel that allows you to automatically input data from your stored credentials, credit cards, or identities, thus reducing the amount of effort required to find the right bit of information for any particular task.

In my brief time with the app, the browser turned out to still have a few minor kinks; for example, the "bird's eye" view, which shows screenshots of all open tabs, seems to stretch out the images a bit, and, when you close the last open tab, it takes you out of browser mode altogether and back into vault mode — rather than simply bringing you back to a blank browser window, as you would expect.

 

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