The market for secure wallet programs on the Pocket PC is a tough one. The competition is hard, and finding the software that suits your needs best might be even harder. That’s one problem.
Then there is another problem. WebIS, developer of Pocket Informant, FlexMail, FlexWallet and more, has been very busy with the upcoming updates to Pocket Informant and FlexMail, so it’s hard to find time to continue with FlexWallet development.
Now, the solution has been presented, because this message appeared on my RSS reader (which is NewsBreak, of course):
eWallet + FlexWallet = The Best of the Best!
Ilium Software and WebIS have teamed up to offer our customers the best electronic wallet ever. WebIS is focusing their efforts on their flagship products and Ilium Software is going to take the electronic wallet helm! In eWallet 6.0 we’ve taken the best of FlexWallet and added those features to eWallet (and there are more FlexWallet features on the way!)
So, let’s take a look at how Ilium Software, maker of ListPro and NewsBreak, has improved their eWallet, and how they’re planning to please also the users of FlexWallet.
Note: As always, you can click the thumbnail images to get the full-size version.
Note 2: I’ve reviewed eWallet 4.1 in November 2006, you can read about it here. Remember that there was eWallet 5 as well, which is not discussed in these reviews!
A generous trial
First of all, it’s good to know that you don’t have to rush your decision to purchase eWallet. No matter if you want to install it on your desktop PC, Pocket PC, Smartphone, or Palm device, Ilium has a 30 day trial for you.
eWallet for Blackberry is also coming (in Q1 of 2008) but while it is being integrated into the Desktop version of eWallet, WebIS will keep offering FlexWallet for Blackberry.
Most important: Security
eWallet is secure. Starting with eWallet 6.0, a 256-bit AES FIPS encryption is used to secure your data. This is the method that is being used by government agencies! The moment you open your wallet file you will be notified that your file is not password protected, and that this is required to keep your data secure. So, while you can skip this step, you’d better come up with a good password right away. This will unlock the Security settings for your wallet, where you can lock your wallet file after a certain amount of time, meaning that you will have to re-enter your password to access it. You can also activate an annoying ‘lock out’ feature that makes it harder for ‘unfriendly’ people to access your data. If someone enters the wrong password, he/she can be locked out for a specified amount of time. Taking this into account, it’s very important that you remember your own password!
One thing I found very sneaky is that, when opening a wallet, an alphanumerical keyboard is presented to you. But when entering a password the first time, there is no such keyboard, so I also used letters as part of my password. Now if someone opens my wallet without my authorization, and without knowing eWallet, how will he or she know that my data is not stored with a PIN number, but with a password that also uses letters! By simply tapping the SIP icon at the bottom (between the softkeys) the default keyboard will come up so that you can type your letters and numbers.
Structured user interface
eWallet works with different optional views, but the basics are easy to understand. Your data is saved in eWallet files. You can choose to keep different files for all your kinds of data (internet website passwords, phone numbers, credit cards, etc), or you can put them all into one file, using categories. In a newly created wallet, you can create several categories, and subcategories. In those, you can store the cards containing your info. In this example, I’ve created an eWallet file called spmwinkel. In this, I’ve created several categories (Internet Cards and Phone numbers). The Internet Cards category contains two subcategories.
Individual cards can be placed inside a category or subcategory.
We’ll get to the cards in a moment, but first I need to show you the default eWallet view: Icon view. This is more finger friendly, since you have icons for the categories in the first screen, and tapping a category opens a screen with the sub categories. Inside those are the cards, all with a nice icon that you can set yourself. While this is more finger-friendly, I think it’s also easier to get lost, since you might not know in which category/subcategory you are at the moment. Therefore, I quickly switched to List View.
Card view & Flex view
Then there are the cards. Cards show you your information the way you would expect to see them on a credit card, business card, etc. Here I have a fictional card with website information. I’ve chosen to display the name of the site, and my login information (again, just fictional – I don’t have login access to the Ilium site!).
Another safety feature here is that you can show/hide your password by pressing a button. If you just need the URL, there’s no need to have your password on the screen, so you can have it hidden by default. (If you want it to be visible by default, that’s possible as well!)
Next I’ve listed the actual URL, which is a live URL so tapping it directly opens it in Internet Explorer Mobile.
I’ve also included the Ilium Software logo. You can attach images on your device to a card, and position it where in the corner where it fits best. If there would have been a small square icon, it might have fitted better in the top right corner, for example.
Then there are also MANY extra fields that can be filled, and that info will be displayd below the bar. Here we see that also phone numbers (and e-mail addresses) can be tapped to directly reach someone. The Notes field can also be used for your liking. You can even attach files (images, notes, etc.) or link to them, to have immediate access to those important call notes that belong to one of your work contacts!
Cards allow for a lot customization, examples are included in a basic eWallet file that comes with the installation. Two of those examples can be seen here:
But FlexWallet users are used to a different view, and that view might be part of the reason why they’ve chosen for FlexWallet in the first place. So, to accomodate those users, a new Flex layout has been added. To the right and below you can see how the Cards from above, will look in Flex view. Unfortunately, I couldn’t scroll this view with my finger like on the iPhone and several WM6 applications. This would seem like the perfect screen for finger scrolling!
Templates, and they can be edited
By default, eWallet comes with a Template file, which is used when you create new cards in your own file. But if you press Tools > Edit Templates, you can customize these templates to your liking. You will be taken to the Templates file which looks like any other eWallet file, except for the fact that all cards are empty. If you open a card and then edit it, you can tap-and-hold on the name of an item to rename it. It’s easiest to just leave the fields you don’t want to use empty. I think the Template Editor is not the most intuitive. A more interactive editor where you can also rearrange the position of items on the card and add/remove fields would make things a lot easier.
Ilium Software has payed a lot attention to synchronization, both for ListPro as for eWallet. In eWallet, there are several ways to make sure that your wallet files are not easily lost:
- eWallet can create backups. When you’re in a wallet, simply tap Options > Automatic Backup. Then, a backup of your wallet will be created everytime you lock or close your wallet file.
- Put your file in the My Documents folder, and let ActiveSync synchronize it to the desktop and back. The downside of this is that when changes are made to both of them, there can be conflicts.
- Then there is SyncPro, which can be used if you also have the Desktop PC version of eWallet. You can then setup a synchronization direction. The top-most options allows you to tweak your wallet both on your desktop PC as on your device, at the same time, still allowing them to be synced correctly.
Initially, I had problems getting Automatic Backups. After contacting Ilium support, I soon had a discussion with both the product manager and the general manager of Ilium. It appears that automatic backups are created if you lock your wallet, or close it from inside eWallet. I was using iLauncher, and I pressed the OK button in the top right corner of eWallet. I then got to the wallet-document list, and closed from there. In the current version of eWallet, closing from the doc list will NOT create an automatic backup. But opening the Task Manager and using that to close eWallet does. Ilium plans to change this behaviour so that closing a wallet the way I did it, will also trigger an automatic update.
Other noteworthy “basic” features
While the most important things about eWallet have been showed above, there are several other features of eWallet that it’s users have grown attached to. One of those is the PassBuilder, which creates random passwords for you on the go. We all know that random passwords are the most safe to use, but also hard to remember. eWallet can give you a sentence that can be used to remember the password more easily. Most of the time it doesn’t make a lot sense, though. ;-)
I’ve touched on the following subject, but it needs to be said properly: there’s a lot you can customize when you’re creating a new card. Besides entering the actual data in the fields, you can chance the font color, card color, icon, scroll bar, and card corner type (square or round). You can add or link to attachments and images, and add notes to your card. Those attachments can also include actual photo’s you can take from your credit card with the camera on your device. eWallet will make them part of the card, and encrypt it for you.
You can Search for text in your cards. Simply go to Find > Find… and enter the words you want to find. If you’ve created a card containing this word, eWallet will find it!
Finally, you can export all your data to a simple .txt file so that you can easily use and find your data on devices that don’t have eWallet installed. However, this .txt file is of course unsecured!
eWallet and FlexWallet, best of both worlds, including free add-ons!
I’ve already told about the Flex View that should help FlexWallet users feel more familiar in eWallet. But there’s more that should make the migration easier, Ilium set up a page for you here. Basically, what you need to do is install eWallet on your desktop PC, go to File > Open Wallet, and open your FlexWallet wallet. Then simply follow the on-screen instructions, that’s all there is to it!
You can even take the FlexWallet icons with you – get them here. This brings you to a page with 5 icon packs. The latest icon pack contains 201 FlexWallet icons, so eWallet users will want to check that out as well. Note that using many icons might slow down eWallet. Instructions on how to deal with icons are included at the bottom of the link at the start of this paragraph.
eWallet Web Companion beta
Ilium Software invites you to participate in a new projects, which allows you to access your eWallet file everywhere you are, as long as you have an internet connection. You do need eWallet 6.0 to participate, and no final decisions have been made yet on how this will integrate with eWallet licenses, or where the files will be saved in the future. But for now, things are stored safely by Ilium, so that they can provide individual support if needed. If you’re interested in accessing your eWallet file from your iPhone, Nintendo Wii or PlayStation Portable, click here.
Conclusion and upgrade info
Over the years, eWallet has grown to be very popular, and highly valued. It is featured in top 10 lists very often, and many people rely on it. Personally, I don’t store my valuable information on my PPC, so I use ListPro for the lists I need. However, I don’t have any credit cards or something like that, so I don’t think that I’m the kind of person that this application is targeted at. Nonetheless, Ilium and WebIS are companies that are dedicated to distributing high quality software, and eWallet is another example of that.
It gives you many freedom when inserting items into your wallet, by allowing you to insert graphics and attach files, changing the font colors and card appearance. You also have freedom to pick the view you want, no matter if you like eWallet’s Card view or the view FlexWallet users have grown used to. And finally you have a LOT of freedom when it comes to adding free icons, backgrounds, etc. for your cards. I only miss the freedom to easily edit templates in a powerful way. But that doesn’t stop me from saying that eWallet gives you a lot of freedom, in a secure environment.
EDIT – The Ilium Software product manager posted his thoughts on several topics in the WebIS forums HERE. He states that he insists on improving the way templates work.
By: Ilium Software
Compatibility: Pocket PC (WM 2003, WM 2003 SE, WM 5 and WM 6), Smartphones, Palm OS, Windows PC, U3 Flash Drives. Check this page for exact details.
Download trial: here
One mobile version: $19.95
Mobile + desktop PC version: $29.95
If you purchased before September 17, 2007:
Mobile version upgrade: $9.95, check here.
Mobile + desktop PC version: $16.95, eWallet users check here, FlexWallet users here.
If you bought eWallet 5.0 or FlexWallet between September 17 and December 17, 2007, your upgrade to version 6.0 is free on the same platform(s) for which you made your original purchase. eWallet users will receive an e-mail with their registration codes in January, because of the holidays. But because of the 30 day trial, that should not be a problem. FlexWallet users will get an e-mail from WebIS.