Thursday, 1 March 2012
Avira Android Security locks and finds lost phones for free
Avira stays in touch with your lost phone
Avira is known for its desktop virus scanner, but now they're on Android too. Not with a virus scanner, but with an app that lets you limit the damage if your phone is lost or stolen.
Avira Android Security doesn't do anything on its own, but works with an account on android.avira.com. When you log into the Avira web console you can locate and lock your phone, or make it scream. It won't remotely wipe your phone yet, but they're working on it.
The web console can also show your phones battery level, so you can give up trying to find your phone and wipe out your private data instead before your battery runs out.
Glitch: on my Motorola Defy (stock ROM) Avira displays white text on a light grey background.
Reason for concern: when you sign up with Avira you give them permission to email you product updates, offers, and anything else that Avira might want to spam you with. There's no opt-out method yet, and although it's easy to make an Avira account there's no way to remove it (yet?). To be on the safe side I'd use a disposable email address to sign up.
Avira versus avast!
Sounds familiar? Avast does the same things, but in a different way.
You remotely control avast by SMS. Avira only works through its web interface.
Update: avast anti-theft now works by SMS and by web interface.
SMS control only works if you have another mobile phone nearby, web control only works if your phone is online. Avast can turn on your phones internet through SMS, but Avira has no way to talk to your phone if its internet connection is switched off.
To improve your chances of getting in touch with your missing phone, both apps should work on providing both SMS and web control. Avast is busy working on a web interface, but Avira doesn't say anything about plans to include SMS control.
Avast can switch your GPS on if you send it the right SMS command. Avira can't, so if your phone goes missing without GPS enabled Avira will never find it.
Avira is easy to remove, avast is protected by a PIN code and it has an "undeletable" stealth anti-theft mode for rooted phones that survives a hard reset. It can only be removed by unauthorised thieves if they manage to flash your ROM.
Avast has a built-in firewall and call/SMS filtering. Avira doesn't.
And Avira still has to add remote wipe. Avast already has it.
Avira is in early beta testing stage and it shows. Avast beats Avira at almost everything, except online control. Until avast adds a web interface to talk to your phone I'll keep both avast and Avira installed.
Update: now that avast has its web interface there's no more reason to keep Avira on your phone.
• Avira (Android Market)