Review: SplashID for Mac and iPhone

Password manager for Mac & iPhone. (September 10th, 2009)

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Product Manufacturer: SplashData, Inc.

Price: $9.99 and $19.95

The Good

  • Slick synchronization between desktop and iPhone oriPod Touch.
    Provides secure place for sensitive information.
    Ability to create strong passwords.
    Masks sensitive information.

The Bad

  • Inconsistent form filling.
    No Landscape mode in iPhone/iPod Touch browser.
    No access to password generator from master password screen.
    No Firefox support.

If anything can be said about the Information Age, it's that it has cluttered our lives. We need to keep our fingers on a dumpster load of passwords, credit card numbers, bank account PINs, and other dataphernalia, but can't always keep them in our minds. That's why it makes sense to have a central, secure place to store that stuff, a place like a password manager. A good manager should allow you to instantly recall your passwords, back them up as insurance against misfortune, and create strong ones to thwart miscreant crackers. SplashID from SplashData, of Los Gatos, CA, for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and Mac OS X does all these things and much more.

SplashID is more than just a repository for passwords. This reasonably priced software is constructed to protect the kind of information that makes identity thieves drool. You can find the Leopard-compatible iPhone and iPod Touch version ($9.99) in the App Store or download the Mac OS X version from the site ($19.95). Android, Windows, Smartphone, Blackberry, and other product versions are also available.

opening window


It protects your data by encrypting the information you enter. The iPhone version uses the 256-bit Blowfish method for scrambling data, while the Mac OS X edition supports Blowfish and AES encryption. Strong encryption is only half the security equation, though.

Staring with SplashID

When you launch SplashID for the first time, it asks you to create a password that you use to open the application in the future. You can comply with the request or skip it. You can create the password later from a menu item. If your password is weak, an information highwayman can walk in the front door of your candy store and no amount of encryption is going to stop him from gorging his sweet tooth. SplashID's password generator solves that problem.

opening window


Password Generator


The generator permits you to create strong passwords. You can choose the length of the password as well as its character mix-letters, numbers, Greek letters, or special characters (!@#). The longer your password, the tougher it is to crack.

You access the password generator only through records that contain a password field. The password generator can't be accessed from the Set Password screen. If you want to create a strong password to guard entry into the software, you have to create it in a record, then copy and paste it into the Set Password screen. It seems a more direct way to generate passwords from that screen should be available.

SplashID Record


SplashID Record


As in a traditional database application, you store entries in SplashID in records consisting of fields. For example, an Amazon.com record might include fields for password, URL, date modified, and customer service contact information.

SplashID Fields


SplashID Record Fields


Each record type has predefined fields, but you can modify them easily. What's more, you can create new record types from scratch with fields of your choosing.

Some fields have interactive characteristics. For instance, if a field contains a password or other sensitive information, you can "mask" it. Masked data appears as dots in online forms. You can also poke or click fields with a Web address and the location immediately displays in a browser.

Web Browser

In the iPhone version of the program, SplashID uses its own browser to follow links from within records. That enables it to auto-fill online forms, such as Web site logins, with information from the application's records. One apparent drawback to this method is that the SplashID browser doesn't support landscape mode on the iPhone.

The desktop edition of the program supports only Safari and Microsoft Internet Explorer. If Firefox is your default browser, the software can get confused. For example, if you click on a URL in a record, SplashID will launch Firefox but won't auto-fill forms at the target site. However, if you click the globe icon on the SpashID's toolbar, it launches Safari and performs a proper auto-fill.

SplashID Record


SplashID iPhone Record


In the iPhone application, you can list records alphabetically or filter them by category or type. Categories include business and personal. Types include calling cards, e-mail accounts, memberships, and Web logins. SplashID comes populated with various categories and types, but you can create your own to suit your organizational tastes.

Different Views

The views in the desktop version of the program differ from the handheld edition. There's a panel view, which splits the window into three panes.

SplashID Column View


SplashID Application Column View


One pane displays entry types and the number of items in each type, as well as three smart types: Most viewed records, recently modified records, and recently viewed records. The middle pane lists the items within a type and the last panel displays the information within the record. There's also a list view with two panes.

The first pane shows a list table of items. The columns in the table correspond to the fields in the record. You can modify which columns from a menu item. The second pane displays the information in an item selected in the first pane.

SplashID Category View


SplashID Category View


The third view also has two panes. The first pane displays a list of item types. You click an arrow beside a type to show all the items within it. Selecting an item shows its information in the second pane.

SplashID Outline View


SplashID Outline View


You can access options easily in the desktop edition by clicking an icon above the main window in any view. The options let you modify a number of the software's settings. For example, you can change the location of database and backup files, security applied, change fonts and the color of columns, and determine which columns are displayed in a table view. You can also choose how the desktop synchronizes with a handheld device.

Synchronization

Synchronization between an iPhone or iPod Touch and the desktop software must be initiated through the handheld unit.

In addition to a mirror sync, in which you modify the databases on the two devices to reflect each other, you also can choose to have the desktop overwrite the information on the handheld or have the handheld overwrite the information on the desktop. I performed a sync between an iPod Touch and MacBook on my home WiFi network and the operation was slicker than snail slime. After choosing the appropriate network on the iPod and the MacBook, the two machines merrily exchanged their information without a sneeze.

Recommended

SplashID provides a safe place to store sensitive information, and a smooth method for synchronizing data between an iPhone or iPhone Touch and Mac OS X. Although, its use of rigid records and fields is annoying at times, those annoyances are remedied through the program's flexible customization options. For many users, SplashID can be a powerful tool in the struggle to manage personal information overload.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by John P. Mello Jr.


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