LastPass (for iPhone)
Passwords are a critical part of digital life, but people are bad at passwords. We’re not good at thinking up complex passwords, and we’re not good at remembering the bad passwords we come up with. That’s why you need a password manager, and the LastPassiPhone app is one of the best. With it, you’ll always have your precious login information within easy reach, and lots more besides. It’s our Editors’ Choice for iPhone password managers.
Pricing, Setup, and Interface
LastPass is available as a free download from the App Store, and I had no trouble installing it on my iPhone 6. There are Premium accounts available for LastPass, but a new pricing model means you might never need to pay in order to get the most out of your account. Under the new model, LastPass syncs passwords with any number of devices of the same type for free, forever. So, if you create your account on a phone, you can retrieve your passwords from any other phone for free, but not from the desktop app or a tablet.
Premium accounts cost only $12 a year and do add some useful extra features, so I highly recommend opening your wallet. For the complete rundown of LastPass as a service, be sure to read our review.Dashlane, a strong competitor in the password manager world, charges $39.99 a year for its premium service.
When setting up LastPass, you’re prompted to create a master password to unlock the app. This is the proverbial last pass(word) you’ll ever need to memorize, so make it a good one. But entering in a long, complicated password on a phone is a real pain, which is why I highly recommend enabling Touch ID with LastPass. Once this feature is activated, you have only to tap your thumb on your iPhone or iPad’s built-in fingerprint reader, and you have access to all your passwords.
Some people worry about placing all their passwords into a single service, and LastPass is definitely a target for hackers. But the company secures all of your information with AES-256 encryption. If anyone breaks in, they get nothing but junk data. Still, it’s a good idea to enable at least one of the many two-factor authentication methods LastPass supports, such as Google Authenticator, Duo Mobile. More exotic options, like YubiKey, require a Premium account.
Over the years, I’ve seen LastPass’s security put to the test. In one incident, a bug left unencrypted passwords in the device’s memory. Later, users were required to change their passwords after it was confirmed an attacker gained access to the company’s encrypted servers. Far from being concerned, I was impressed with the honesty and expediency with which LastPass dealt with these challenges. No service is infallible; what matters is how companies deal with failures.
Note that LastPass was recently purchased by LogMeIn.
The latest iPhone version of LastPass is, surprisingly, inspired by Android’s material design. A large red button in the bottom corner is straight out of the material design handbook, and lets you quickly create new entries for website logins, form fills, and secure notes. Though it’s a virtual carbon copy of the Android app, it looks quite handsome on the iPhone as well. Dashlane’s iPhone app, on the other hand, is a bit awkward on the iPhone, but really shines on Android.
With LastPass, your entire collection of passwords is close at hand. From the app’s main page, you can launch, view, or edit entries you’ve already created with either a tap or a swipe.
The LastPass iPhone app also lets you generate passwords. It’s an excellent tool, with settings for password length and whether the password should include uppercase characters, lowercase characters, special characters, or numbers. You can also require LastPass to avoid ambiguous characters (like O and 0), and you can specify how many numbers to include in the password.
While creating a password is easy, saving one is trickier. A button at the bottom of the password creation screen says “save password,” but I couldn’t actually get this to work in my testing. If you create a password from the red plus button by tapping “add site” you can fill in all the information for the site or app for which you need a password, and create a new password that automatically populates into the form. I’d like to see LastPass refine this process in the future, so creating a new password is more flexible. Frustratingly, Dashlane’s iPhone app also presents roadblocks to saving new entries.
I was really impressed with LastPass for Android, where you can grab password information in a number of ways. Things are a little more tedious when logging into apps on the iPhone. You have to first open the app, find the entry you want, copy the username, jump back to the app or website requesting your login, and paste it. Repeat that step for the password as well. It’s a mild annoyance compared to not having access to passwords.
A previous iOS update has improved the situation. If you see a keyhole icon in a password field, you can tap it to access your LastPass vault directly. Though this is handled by the operating system, it seems to be up to app developers to enable it, and few have. That’s unfortunate, and I hope more developers will embrace this option.
LastPass also integrates quite nicely with Safari from the Share Sheet. Just navigate to the website you want to log in to, tap the Action Box, tap LastPass, and find the correct login. It’s easy, but you can’t search your whole password vault and can only chose from LastPass’s suggestions. You also can’t use form fills to automatically enter critical information into Web forms. You can use this same process to add a new password entry, but LastPass can’t scrape the information you already entered on the page.
The one place where LastPass works seamlessly on the iPhone is in the integrated LastPass browser. Here, you fill forms automatically populated Web forms with personal information like your name, address, and credit card number. LastPass can also fill in your username and password in its browser. That’s handy. I like that LastPass gives you the option to create and use a new password from within the LastPass browser, but it isn’t as seamless as using the Dashlane iPhone app’s integrated browser.
In addition to passwords and form fills, LastPass also has secure notes. These are encrypted entries that store information you might need to reference, like your Social Security Number. I find them particularly useful for work-related passwords.
It’s usually a bad idea to share passwords, but if you manage a Twitter account with work colleagues or share a bank account with your spouse, you might need to send someone a password. LastPass lets you grant other individuals access to individual entries in your password vault, and even lets you hide the password from them as part of the process. I was not able to find a way to share whole folders of passwords, unfortunately.
The latest version of LastPass also features Apple Watch support, letting you quickly access some of the service’s features from your wrist. You can create a new secure note from the Apple Watch, use the watch’s voice search to find a particular entry, and view passwords, notes, and form fills without having to open your phone.
A Critical Tool
Most people think they’ll be alright using the same password or two everywhere, but when you recycle passwords you put all the sites that share that password at risk of being compromised. Plus, the best password you can think of is still probably not that good. So please, get a password manager.
If you choose LastPass, you won’t be disappointed. The service’s new pricing plan makes it easy to get started, and the low cost of a Premium account is very welcome. LastPass excels at creating and sorting your credentials, and while copying and pasting can be a bit tedious on iPhone it’s still better than trying to remember long, complicated password. Plus, its Premium accounts cost about $1 a month; an unbeatable deal. The introduction of a fresh new design and close integration with the OS and the Touch ID fingerprint scanner make this an easy Editors’ Choice.