June 28, 2011 | Andy Boxall
It takes innovation to breathe new life into a tired genre, a fact which applies to everything from books to film and now, to iPhone apps too. Storing passwords and other pieces of sensitive information doesn’t make for the most exciting application, and normally the thought of reviewing them would be an instant turn-off.
It’s not that they’re bad, but they’re almost always the same – and struggling to come up with a reason why one is better than the other is often futile. But that’s not the case with Ben the Bodyguard though, as even reading the app’s title should tell you this isn’t another boring old password protected locker.
You may have seen the trailer I posted the other week, a clever film noir style teaser, and the first time you start up Ben the Bodyguard launches you into another, similar tale, this time giving some background on Ben himself. That’s right, I said character. Ben’s presence is a constant throughout the app, where he provides amusing quips and quick hints on how he can help out. Even upcoming event notifications say ‘Ben wanted to tell you something’, keeping up that cool bodyguard theme and your information secret.
Once the app is up and running, you set a master password and sort out a secret question/answer, then you can start adding private data. Ben looks after passwords, notes, photos, contacts and appointments, then hides them away behind a 256-bit AES encryption wall. He’ll alert you to upcoming appointments, but won’t reveal the details in the push notification, and as you’ll have to enter your password to enter the app, it’s all safe from prying eyes.
Pressing the Home button leaves the app running, but restarting it from the tray automatically brings up the password prompt, as does leaving the app open when the iPhone goes to sleep.
It’s all very easy to use too, as adding new data is no different from adding data to the standard iOS apps, so you won’t be put off by having to learn something new. There’s also a search feature, a handy password generator, plus the ability to turn Ben’s audio and animation off if he begins to grate.
If you’re planning to have Ben look after some pictures, they can be imported from your photo gallery, or by using the camera interface inside the photo section of Ben the Bodyguard. Snaps taken this way are encrypted and aren’t stored outside of the app.
So, Ben the Bodyguard looks great and does something a little bit different, while still managing to keep any pertinent information safe. In comparison with 1Password, one of the better locker apps I’ve used, it trumps it by storing photos and appointments while costing half as much. Where it’s let down is by not including 1Password’s brilliant system of logging into websites and integration with a dedicated desktop program.
If I was serious about storing secret or sensitive data, or needed it for business, I’d still buy 1Password; but if I wanted to have some fun, store some naughty pictures, some personal appointments or similar information, Ben the Bodyguard would be a good fit.
- Great character and animation.
- Seems to do a good job of storing private information.
- Hides photos.
- Cheaper than several competitors.
- No desktop integration.
- Playful take on security won’t be for everyone.
- Still quite expensive at $4.99/£2.99.