1Password has long been a must have app for secure password and sensitive information management on the Mac, but while the iPhone and iPad versions have been handy, they always felt limited compared their desktop counterpart. AgileBits addressed those limitations in 1Password 4 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and -- for the most part -- brings the iOS version inline with its big brother on the Mac.
1Password 4 on the iPad
1Password is an app that stores your passwords, bank account information, email logins, and any other information you want to keep away from prying eyes by bundling everything up in an encrypted database. It can auto-fill logins on websites for you, and includes a built-in strong password generator so you don't have to try to come up with clever and hard to guess passwords on your own.
Brand New Look
The new version comes with a redesigned interface that can show all of your entries together so you don't have to remember which category an entry is in, and it supports folders for organizing items, just like the desktop version of 1Password. Both features are welcome additions because they make it much easier to organize your database and find items with fewer taps compared to earlier iOS versions of the app.
Users that prefer seeing entries broken out by category such as Logins, Software Licenses, and Credit Cards, AgileBits has you covered since the Categories view is still available. The app also includes a global search feature that hunts through all categories.
1Password 4's new Favorites category
Along with the ability to organize entries by categories and folders, 1Password 4 also includes a new Favorites category to hold the items you use most often so you don't have to spend time scrolling through lists. 1Password power users will appreciate Favorites because it makes big databases much easier to manage: only the logins you add to the list are there.
Working with individual entries is much easier now thanks to a simple swipe gesture. Just swipe from left to right across an entry to reveal Smart Copy, Favorite, Open in Browser, and Delete buttons. No need to tap on extra menus, and anything that cuts down on tap waste is a big plus in my book.
Entries now support attachments, just like the desktop version of 1Password. Attachments I added to entries in 1Password on my Mac, like emails with app registration codes, synced perfectly to my iPhone and iPad and were accessible with a single tap from within individual entries.
1Password 4's password generator on the iPhone
1Password 4's password generator works just as well as the desktop version, and includes a slider to control how complex your passwords are. You'll see the feature when you make a new login entry; Just look for the little combination lock dial next to the password field and tap it to create a new password.
Getting in Sync
Syncing has some new features, too, thanks to the addition of iCloud support. Dropbox support is still there, and works as reliably as it always has. iCloud syncing worked perfectly for me, too, although the Mac version of 1Password doesn't support the feature yet. That limits iCloud syncing to just iOS devices until AgileBits releases an update for the Mac and Windows versions.
AgileBits added another sync option to 1Password 4: iTunes File Sharing. File Sharing syncing worked fine for me, but it felt more useful as an extra backup system since Dropbox and iCloud syncing already work so well and don't require your Mac or PC, plus iTunes, in the mix.
Wi-Fi sync, a feature in 1Password 3, is now gone. That's not a big loss since Dropbox and iCloud syncing are far more transparent. If you're a fan of Wi-Fi syncing, however, it's time to learn to love 1Password 4's sync options instead.
Web Browsing, for Real
Along with the interface redesign, one of the biggest new features in 1Password 4 is the built-in Web browser. Instead of a simple site viewer, which was essentially what users had in 1Password 3, version 4 includes a full-on browser with support for multiple tabs. 1Password 4's browser works so well, in fact, that it can work as a replacement for Mobile Safari, and has the added bonus of supporting auto-fill -- a feature that Mobile Safari doesn't support because Apple doesn't allow third-party extensions in its own browser.
Much like 1Password for the Mac and Windows, the iOS version sports an auto-fill button in the browser's URL bar you can tap to show potential logins for the sites you visit. This is a feature I rely on daily on my Mac, and it's a wonderfully welcome addition on my iPhone and iPad. I often find myself going first to 1Password for Web browsing now instead of Mobile Safari simply because of the built-in login feature.
1Password 4's built-in Web browser
You can even perform Web searches from the unified URL field. 1Password uses DuckDuckGo instead of Google or Bing as its search engine, which is a fine change from the big guys. You can't, however, set a different search engine as your default.
While 1Password's browser is great, it does have a couple limitations: it doesn't include a bookmark feature, and it doesn't create new database entries when you login to a website for the first time. I can live without built-in bookmarks, but not being able to generate new login entries from the browser just hurts, and happens to be my only disappointment with the app. It's a fundamental feature in 1Password on my Mac, and one I've been desperately hoping would come to iOS ever since 1Password 3 was released.
The wait for entry creation in the browser isn't, however, hopeless. The AgileBits crew told me they're looking at the feature, but havent committed to adding it yet. My fingers are crossed it'll come... yes, I live in hope.
But Wait, there's More
AgileBits also added a demo mode to 1Password that lets you show off the app's features without showing off your own passwords and bank account logins. For some, it may seem like a small addition, but for those of us that demo the app for user groups, friends and family, it's amazingly useful and a feature I didn't realize I was missing until it was there.
1Password 4 was snappy and reliable on my iPhone 5 and third generation iPad running iOS 6.0.1, and with Retina Display support looks just beautiful on both. It's easy to learn and navigate, and is now a Universal app, too, meaning the same app runs with a native interface on the iPhone and iPad.
1Password 3 users may balk at the fact that 1Password 4 is a new app so there aren't any free upgrades to be found here. I don't see that as a big issue because it costs money to write great apps, and any company that gives away everything for free isn't going to be in business for long.
That said, AgileBits is temporarily selling 1Password 4 for US$7.99 through the App Store instead of it's regular $17.99 price. Think of it as an upgrade price that everyone gets, including first time users, and since it's a Universal app you can buy one copy to install on all of your iOS devices.
The Bottom Line
1Password 4 is simply a must have app for every iPhone and iPad owner that's moved beyond keeping passwords on a Post-It note -- which should be you. Dropbox and iCloud sync support make keeping your passwords and other private data on all your devices drop dead simple, too.
Despite 1Password 4's hopefully temporary inability to create new entries for logins you from the built-n browser, it's still the single most useful password manager for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and easily worth far more than the price of admission.