A password manager can make life a great deal easier. Rather than having to remember increasingly complex login details for a myriad of apps and sites, you simply use one solitary password to access the manager app itself, which then takes care of the rest.
They can also create new, complex passwords for your accounts; ones that will be far more secure than the current combination of birthdays, pets and children’s names that you might be using.
We’ve gathered together a selection of the current offerings for iPhone (we’ve got a separate article about Mac password managers), any of which will take your security up several levels. If you’re also interested in making your iPhone browsing more secure, then check out our Best VPN for iPhone guide.
What is a password manager?
As the name suggests, these apps are a way to manage the account details for any app or service you use online. They act as a secure repository for the login IDs and passwords for each site, all of which are accessed via a single master password. With the manager installed, whenever you open an app or visit a web page you’ll be signed in automatically.
The real advantage is the high levels of security they use to protect your data, alongside the ability to create new passwords that are longer and more nonsensical than anything you could normally remember yourself. Both act as prime weapons against hackers trying to access your accounts.
Many also have the ability to store credit card and bank details, so purchases can be made without having to root around in pockets and bags for those elusive pieces of plastic.
Cost: Free (£33.99/$35.99 Premium version available with additional features)
Download LastPass from the App Store
LastPass is a veteran service with a huge worldwide user base. It was one of the first password managers to catch public attention and remains an excellent option for anyone looking to keep their accounts secure.
As well as storing all of your login details, the app can also auto-fill forms with your name, address and credit card details, with the added bonus of being able to sign into apps and sites by using Touch ID.
LastPass also offers secure storage for photos, notes, software keys, passport information and any other sensitive information you wish to keep in the vault on the company’s US-based servers. Everything is protected by AES 256bit encryption, and only you know the master password – so don’t lose it!
The standard licence is free, and since Nov 2016 this has included multi-device support. But if you want to take advantage of features like family password sharing and encrypted file storage then you’ll need the premium account, which costs £33.99/$35.99 per year.
Cost: £3.49/$3.99 a month or £32.99/$35.99 a year
Download 1Password from the App Store
Canadian-based 1Password has been making quite a name for itself in the last few years. It currently has a 4.5 star rating from 2.4k reviews on the App Store and is recommended as an Editors’ Choice, not to mention a number of industry awards already under its belt.
This success hasn’t stopped developers AgileBits Inc from continuing to polish the app, which now supports both Touch ID and Face ID as a way to access the app and log into your various accounts.
As you’d expect there are a fair amount of management tools available, including quickly generating replacements for your tired old passwords, a digital wallet for making purchases with your credit or debit card, and the ability to create multiple vaults on your device so you can separate work and personal data.
These can be combined with the useful ‘Travel mode’ feature which can temporarily remove accounts from your device if you’re worried that border controls will want to access your information.
1Password can also act as your authenticator if you use two-step authentication on accounts (we advise that you do), and you’re secure in the knowledge that the end-to-end encryption and locally stored keys mean only you can access the app.
A 30-day free trial is there for you to test-drive 1Password, and after that you can opt to pay £3.49/$3.99 per month or £32.99/$35.99 per year to continue using the service.
Cost: £29.99/$59.99 a year
Download Dashlane from the App Store
Another app that scores very highly on the customer satisfaction charts is Dashlane. This app, at the time of writing, is an Editors’ Choice on the App Store, with a very impressive 4.7 stars rating from 32.4k reviews.
It’s easy to see why, as the clean interface and solid feature set make Dashlane a tempting product. All the standard functions are present: a password management area where you can replace existing ones with far more complex alternatives, auto-login to sites, secure storage for passport and other official documentation details, Touch ID, Face ID and Apple Watch support, plus a digital wallet for making online or in-app purchases.
You can choose between only storing your data locally, or using the cloud sync option on Dashlane’s US servers, but either way AES 256bit encryption will keep everything safe.
If you’re only using one device then Dashlane is actually free, but to sync passwords across your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows PC or Android phone you’ll need the Premium account which will set you back a reasonable £29.99/$59.99 each year.
Cost: £22.99/$29.99 a year
Download Keeper on the App Store
Keeper may look a little bland in its design – grey, black and green does give it a certain Fallout vibe – but the service is solid and delivers pretty much everything you would want from a password manager.
Access your vault with Face ID or Touch ID, then easily upgrade your passwords using an interactive slider and button feature that works surprisingly well. Of course, Keeper offers auto-fill features for apps and websites, plus a digital wallet for payments. You can also share information securely with other Keeper users, and there’s support for two-factor authentication.
AES 256bit encryption and PBKDF2 is standard, and Keeper has been certified by TRUSTe and SOC-2, which confirms its calibre. You can also elect to store your data in either the US or Europe, which is a nice touch.
The app is free for a single user, but costs £22.99/$29.99 per year if you want multi-device support. There’s also additional secure storage that can be purchased for those who want to store a larger number of documents and photos on the Keeper servers.
(For more advice, see: iCloud alternatives.)
As we said at the beginning, each of these services offer great ways to add a significant layer of security to your personal account information. No more sticky notes attached to your fridge – instead now your passwords will be safely nestled in your iPhone and you’ll never even have to remember what they are. That’s what we call progress.