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Review of Avast Mobile Security for Android
After getting a glimpse of Avast’s new mobile security solution a few weeks ago, I just had to dive in and give the app a full review. Avast, the long-awaited marriage of Avast and IT Agents’ Theft Aware (see our review), certainly doesn’t disappoint. It has an insane number of features, all of which appear to work perfectly, and it sounds like things will only be improving with time.
And did I mention the full-featured, root-enhanced app is completely free with no paid version in sight? As in, even the previously paid (Theft-Aware used to cost 10EUR) features.
Check out this handy feature matrix:
And this video, which provides us with a quick overview of just a few of Avast’s capabilities:
At A Glance
Avast Mobile Security is stunning not only in terms of functionality, but also in its design and usability. The app’s interface is extremely polished, and handles Avast’s myriad of features with ease, avoiding a cluttered feeling, and walking users through each feature gently, with full explanations of just what you’re getting into. Apps with as long a list of features as Avast often feel too busy, and features sometimes aren’t exactly practical. This is not the case with Avast. Each and every feature Avast offers is practical, sensible, and most importantly functional.
My only complaints with Avast are minor and really don’t detract from its functionality at all.
First up is Avast’s Virus Scanner. This feature is what you would expect, scanning apps and memory contents for viruses or other malware. For added convenience, users can schedule scans according to days of the week and specific time frames. The scanner looks through apps and SD card contents, to make sure you’re safe from malware. Interestingly, users can schedule virus scans.
Of course, as a lot of us know, most new Android malware is only detected after it does some damage and oftentimes by the time virus definitions are updated, the malware is already long gone from the Market. Therefore, we won’t put too much weight on the Virus Scanner – there are features in Avast that are way cooler and more useful.
Next is Avast’s Privacy Advisor. This tool tells users which apps have access to which data, essentially organizing installed applications according to individual permissions. Avast includes a short description of each permission, making it easy for users to see exactly what each app can look at. As I’ll discuss later, some of these permissions can be blocked using Avast’s handy Firewall tool. Considering what a close eye users often keep on app permissions, this feature is extremely handy.
Avast’s Application Management tool is a relatively simple task manager, but brings Avast’s sleek UI and intuitive functionality to an otherwise run-of-the-mill feature. The App Management tool lists all running apps, and allows users to organize the list by size, memory, CPU usage, and a handful of other categories. When a user selects an app, Avast brings up a screen just like the one found in Android’s native app management settings, with the added functionality of Avast’s firewall options (more on that later). Adding subtle redundancies like these gives Avast a more cohesive feel, without making things feel cluttered or bogged down with unnecessary elements.
Web Shield is an excessively simple tool, controlled by just one check box, which actively protects users from online threats including phishing websites, malware, etc. This is a great idea, and since it only works with the default Android browser, users of aftermarket browsers, such as Dolphin, Firefox, or Opera, probably won’t need to bother with this tool at all.
Personally, I have never run into a malware issue while browsing the web, so I’m not exactly sure how often this feature comes into play, but I suppose it’s comforting to know that the protection is there.
Avast also features call and SMS filters, meaning users can block incoming (and outgoing) calls and text messages according to contacts, groups, times, and days of the week, making it incredibly easy and intuitive to prevent unwanted messages or calls from being received or transmitted. This doesn’t feel so much like a security option, as much as a feature thrown in for convenience. That being said, it’s more sophisticated than many of the call/SMS blocker apps out there, functions perfectly, and is