Password managers are one of the many answers to the public’s need for higher security, particularly against account hacking and the occasional snooping around. On the Mac, Agile Bits’ 1Password 3 stands as the leader of the group with contenders like the simpler Passlocker and the free alternative LastPass coming up close.
Recently, I came across oneSafe by Lunabee Pte Ltd., a brand new addition to the list of password managers. I’ve been a 1Password user for as long as I can remember, so I was curious to see what oneSafe has that sets it apart. But more than just looking at the app’s features, I’ll evaluate how it fairs against 1Password and see if it has what it takes to become a game changer of its niche.
oneSafe has several security features up its sleeve that you can utilise to fully protect your database from intruders. Besides using AES 256, the highest level of encryption, it’s got five password types to choose from:
- A typical four-digit password, similar to that of your ATM card.
- A visual pattern, giving you more numerical combinations to work with.
- An alphanumeric password—go nuts with as many characters as you like.
- A combination lock wheel wherein you’d turn the dial through a series of numbers
- The revolutionary TRI-PIN technology where each key contains a number, a colour, and a symbol.
I obviously chose the TRI-PIN and have set it as my official passcode for oneSafe. It’s great because every colour and symbol changes position whenever I open oneSafe, and so no one will be able to remember the combination used to open the app.
You will then be prompted to choose whether to define two security questions for passcode recovery or not. If you choose not to define a security question, make sure to memorise or save your Master passcode in a private place. Since oneSafe does not save or store your entry passcode for security reasons, you will have to delete and reinstall the app if you lose it.
Finally, within oneSafe is a special category called Double Protection, which is a second level of protection that you can use to secure your most valuable and confidential information with another passcode. The best part is that you can create as many Double Protection categories as needed.
On 1Password 3, I can only create an alphanumeric Master password with the option to create a hint in case I forget. It uses AES 128-bit encryption—a conscious decision made in favour of performance and portability. All that aside, I’d have to give oneSafe the gold medal here for providing several passcode options and double-layered security.
To compare, 1Password has several sections where different kinds of confidential information can be stored. The Vault is the safe house for all of your web logins, accounts (e.g., databases, FTP accounts, iTunes), identities, secure notes, software licenses, and financial information. Each are segregated accordingly, making it easy to locate specific items. And if you want to log in to a particular web account, you just have to double click the item, wait for the page to load on your browser, and let it autofill your login info.
On the other hand, oneSafe saves username/password accounts, wallet and admin accounts, and generic accounts for the miscellaneous (but equally important) stuff. Apart from this, you can save documents, photos, and videos by dragging and dropping it into the Document category. In this case, you now have the option to delete the local copy of the file and away from prying eyes. On 1Password, files are saved as attachments, so you’ll need to create a note, software account, or login item and attach the files to them.
Creating new oneSafe categories is also flexible, wherein you can add an icon, name, description, and select if it’s to be saved locally or on iCloud. I noticed though that categories are not strictly implemented. Clicking on the default category “Computer” doesn’t affect my ability to save a bank account or credit card. It’s the same case with the Wallet, Work, and Document categories. You would have to go the extra mile to move or copy-paste items to maintain a sense of order.
With customisation, oneSafe stands out with its card templates feature and the ability to store additional information. With templates, you can easily create and organise your information while customising the background and preview images. By clicking on an item and pressing the gear button, you can change the background and/or click on the preview icon to fetch online and add a new preview image. Finally, you can add notes, phone numbers, email addresses, URLs, and other related info to items whenever necessary. Just click on the item, the Edit button, and the Notes tab found beside the card.
Here’s the deal breaker, though: autofill and login currently doesn’t exist in oneSafe. Clicking on the item simply opens the account login page on your browser. You will have to manually input your username and password to proceed, which is in my opinion a time-consuming and tedious task.
At this point, I’m quite torn between 1Password and oneSafe as they rise above the other at certain aspects. I love 1Password for how organised its user interface is, how detailed and specific its account categories are, and its autofill feature when double-clicking on a web login item. oneSafe’s flexible customisation, templates, and being able to drag and drop files to store in the app are impressive features as well, but since I value functionality and organisation over looks, I’d have to give this round to 1Password. oneSafe comes up really close for its Documents category.
oneSafe gives you two options when choosing where to save your information: locally or via iCloud. The latter has a couple of advantages, one of which is easy and clean synchronisation between your Apple devices. By dragging and dropping a category under the iCloud section of oneSafe for Mac, I can immediately access my accounts and logins on oneSafe for iOS.
Items created on a Mac then viewed on an iOS device prompts oneSafe to keep it hidden until you provide the passcode used on the device where the item originated from. This is a one-time process for every new item synched on iCloud. oneSafe then generates a preview image of the item and allows you to access the account.
1Password currently uses Dropbox as its backup location and point of synchronisation, giving you complete access to your database whenever you need it. It also means I can access my information on any device where 1Password is available, including a Windows machine. Between Macs, you can use other third party file storage services as well. There are instances though when I would experience errors when synching to Dropbox on my mobile phone, but it isn’t a big problem as it gets sorted out easily after a second run.
Overall, it is a tie between oneSafe and Dropbox since both offer a viable synch solution for you to access your information on different devices. However, I’d expect my iCloud account to reach its limit in no time, considering all of that content that would be stored on oneSafe. At least with a third party file storage service like Dropbox, I won’t have to worry about clearing up space for my other iCloud-enabled apps. 1Password is at a close lead, in this case.
Important Features Still Missing
Looking at its security features and interesting design, oneSafe is certainly a notable password management and file security app for the Mac. However, it still doesn’t replace 1Password as my password manager because of one single factor: seamless browser compatibility.
I create and update web logins everyday on Chrome and Safari, so it is important that the new and updated information is immediately saved to the desktop app. On oneSafe, I would have to save each and every one of my logins manually, causing me to feel less inclined to use it for managing my passwords. It doesn’t help that the autofill and login feature isn’t available on the desktop app yet. If the developers will roll out these features soon, the app will surely be a useful and highly recommended alternative to the password management giant.
So, does oneSafe have what it takes to become a great 1Password alternative? Yes, but at its current version it remains to be just an alternative. Even though it is significantly $37 cheaper than the latter, it still lacks important features like autofill login and browser extensions.
However, oneSafe deserves much praise for its tight security features and its wide gallery of account templates and customisation options. I actually feel confident that my data is safe knowing that I have different types of entry passcodes to choose from and that all kinds of information—documents and media included—can be stored and protected on the app. And because it is easy to synch these to your mobile phone via iCloud, I can keep track of my confidential information wherever I go.
If you’re simply looking for a rock-solid password management app at an affordable price, I highly recommend giving oneSafe a try. If you have used the app, do share your thoughts about it in the comments.