How to Add a Passcode/Pattern Lock for your Android, BlackBerry, or iPhone

by Rod on August 12, 2010 · 2 comments

by Rod on August 12, 2010 · 2 comments

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Something I am always shocked to hear asked is “how do I add a password to my mobile phone”.  If you have ever lost a mobile phone you probably only realized the value of using a passcode once the device has been misplaced. For me there are a couple things I always have setup initially on my phones and that is passcode setup and remote wipe.

BlackBerry Device Password

First navigate to the password screen, Options | Password.  Outside of enabling the password option and setting the password you need to change the default timeout.  Initially it is set to 30 minutes if not defined by the BES administrator and that is too long to be valuable.  You want a timeout value that is long enough that you are not annoyed by the device quickly locking, but short enough to keep your data protected.  I set my timeout to 2 minutes when traveling and 5 minutes when I am at home.  I do prompt for the password on application install but I do not use a holster so the final option provides me no value.

iPhone Password Settings

The iPhone offers a couple options not available on BlackBerry.  To enable the password lock on the iPhone navigate to Settings | General | Passcode Lock.  I default my passcode lock to 5 minutes because the only shorter option is 1 minute which is annoyingly fast.  I disable the always on voice dialing option as my goal is to prevent phone calls and access to my content should my phone become lost.  Finally I set the option wipe the phone if the password is entered invalid 10 times.

Android Password

CAP201008120937

Android (2.0+) offers 3 options for Screen Locking: Pattern, PIN, or Password. These are found in Settings | Location & security | Screen Unlock. The screen auto-locks in Android when the screen times out. This can be set to various intervals (15s, 30s, 1m, 2m, 10m or 30m). Of course, you can use an App like Screebl which will never allow the screen to blank while you are holding it in your hand and moving somewhat, but will lock in 15 seconds when you are not.

Android Pattern Lock

The PIN and Password options are exactly what you would expect. The Pattern unlock requires a pattern of at least 4 dots, but can be longer. You can also choose to leave a visible trail while you are unlocking or just vibrate when you hit the right pattern. Like Windows, Android also allows you to cache credentials to websites, apps, etc. The first time you enter one, it will ask if you want to cache. In Settings | Location & security | Credential Storage you can also set a credential storage password that has to be entered for this to operate. This can also allow you to install secure certificates that applications might need in order for you to access them remotely.

Summary

You may decide that you really don’t store data that important on your mobile device and hence choose to NOT use passcode protection. That is, of course, your choice. However, please don’t just ignore this. Make an informed decision and then live with the consequences. Please don’t be required to say at some future time “I wish I had known!”. Look at your options, make an informed decision, and enjoy your mobile device!

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  • Ccsbballboy15

    I recently bought a samsung nexus s and I can put a passcode on the phone, but I cant figure out how to apply it when the phones off for 5 minutes

    • Brent

      One of the questions I have to answer is what are you trying to accomplish? Basically, the way the lock screen works in Android is that it is enabled when you turn off the screen. I am not aware of an way to work around that. You CAN disable the lock screen altogether, but the only way to change the timeout is to change when the screen goes off. 

      The way that I personally work around this is to use an app call Screebl https://market.android.com/details?id=com.keyes.screebl.full&feature=search_result. The way this app works is that as long as you have the phone in your hand and are moving, the screen will NEVER go off. When you put it down, it is set to go off in 15 seconds. However, there is also a potential setting that will allow you to tell the app to not turn off the screen until movement has stopped for 30 seconds, 1 minute, or 2 minutes. These, not surprisingly are the same times you can choose for screen time out. Perhaps an app like this will get you the same result as choosing a 5 minute grace period before the lock screen enables. 

      Let us know how you end up solving this. Enjoy!