Ever since I upgraded to the Torch, I embraced the touch screen world. Not only do I look for applications that help enhance the BlackBerry experience, I also look for apps that grasp the attraction and benefits of a touch screen. Those who have secured their BlackBerrys with a password, be it a keyword or number combination, get used to pounding it out on their keyboard before doing anything. The same could be said with touch screen phones. But then again, our minds are wondrous things. They can recall not only words and numbers, but also patterns and shapes. So why not use those patterns and shapes for passwords as well?
Taking a side step from typical password entry is an application called PatternLock. For touch screen devices, it may be one of the quickest ways to lock and unlock your call screen, specific applications or your BlackBerry itself. Rather than entering in a password, why not use a simple gesture, a secret handshake if you will, between you and your BlackBerry?
The PatternLock application was developed by Tafasa –the mastermind behind many touch screen BlackBerry applications and games. Okay, Okay- Make that all types of BlackBerrys. Some of the more popular apps from Tafasa include the previously reviewed GesturePad, as well as Doodle. PatternLock is available for touch screen BlackBerrys only, running OS 4.7 or higher. The most recent version of PatternLock available is 18.104.22.168, which has a file size of 210KB.
Rating in the CrackBerry App Store: 4/5
Rating in BlackBerry App World: 4/5
As I said before, PatternLock is design to secure your call screen, apps of your choice or your smart phone itself with a simple path, pattern or symbol. The application is loaded with a slew or personalization options that take you beyond simply locking and unlocking. Let’s see how it works first. The lock screen of PatternLock consists of a 3 by 3 grid that you use to let your fingers do the walking…and talking.
The app will highlight the path you are taking as you slide your fingers across the screen. Once you finish lift your digits away from the screen. A correct pattern will unlock whatever you chose to lock. An incorrect pattern will change the pattern path a different colour (default is red) and you may or may not be asked to try again (depending on your settings). Trace the pattern you chose as your unlocking key and voila! You’ve cracked the safe. It appears as though there isn’t a limit as to how often you use a particular dot in your pattern. During setup the app will use arrows to indicate the path you are recording as the unlocking pattern. This pattern can also be changed from the options menu.
Though it has the power to keep prying eyes at bay on the surface, the true power is found within the options and settings.
The options are neatly divided by type, making it easier to configure. If it’s purely aesthetics you’re looking to change, there are a few options available that will allow you to make everything pretty. You can change the background images, app themes or even the icons used to represent the 9 “dots”. The colours of the dots and how they visually respond can even be altered. This goes as far as the colours used to represent path direction, correct/incorrect dots, highlighting rings, dock trays and more.
On the functionality (and um, more important in my opinion) side of settings we get into the good stuff. As I said before, PatternLock provides the option to lock a specific app(s) from being opened. Your apps are divided into 3 categories:
Currently Running Apps
Third Party Apps
You can also personalize the ‘Lock Message’ displayed as well. Something like “Back off, don’t mess with my Twitter account!” should suffice.
PatternLock can be set up so you can manually initiate the lock and/or autolock at a specified time or during special circumstances. These would include; when charging, holstered, etc. Going back to app management, you can choose to disable autolocking when an app (or apps) of your choice is running.
I can’t believe how many options PatternLock has at hand to tweak the experience for every user. I could go on and on and on, but I would end up wearing my fingers down – then my hands. I‘d hit the conclusion by typing with bloody elbows. One thing I will mention is a fantastic location based feature; I can choose where I want to disable autolock. I can choose to lock my BlackBerry at work and then leave it free for anyone to use at home – without having to change anything. You can set the proximity between 50 metres to 1 kilometre. Oh, I should mention that PatternLock integrates nicely with Bellshare’s BerryWeather application, bringing you weather notification right on the lock screen.
Why RIM didn’t look at including a locking option like this I don’t know. I much prefer using PatternLock over the typical password. If you’re worried about someone trying to crack the pattern, you can choose the maximum number of attempts and the duration for the lockout period before they can try again. I did like how I could lock specific apps and disable PatternLock depending on running apps or location. I didn’t really have to worry about locking the call screen, as I don’t have that problem in the first place. You can pick up PatternLock, for free, from the CrackBerry App Store for $2.99. There is also a free version called PatternLock Lite, which only gives you the option for choose a locking pattern, autolock upon startup and autolock on device activity.