In a bid to banish the overhyped Android malware scourge, AT&T will start preloading Lookout Antivirus and Security for Android on all Google-powered phones.
Lookout is one of the most popular security apps for Android users. The app currently has more than 40 million users and has a 4.5/5 star rating on Google Play, and we gave Lookout a 4 out of 5 review rating in August.
Of the major smartphone platforms, Android is the most susceptible to malware attacks thanks to the minimal malware app scanning Google employs on Google Play. To avoid any malware problems, Lookout scans new app installations for bad code to reduce the chances you're downloading anything risky.
Lookout also offers other security features such as data backup, malicious URL blocking, and remote wipe. Many of Lookout's extended features require a premium subscription, which AT&T can add to their bill for $3 per month. Lookout's basic security protection will be provided for free, however. Google itself introduced a free locate and remote wipe feature for all Android phones in September, which should nicely augment Lookout's protection.
Check out TechHive's mobile security reality check for the full rundown on the state of smartphone security.
But while Lookout is an effective, popular choice for people looking to keep their Android devices secure, pre-loading the security app also raises the spectre of bloatware--a term that rose to prominence with Windows PCs that often came with an annoying string of apps that overloaded and slowed down a new computer.
Similarly, cellular carriers install a number of apps on most factory fresh smartphones, such as account management software or apps from content partners. With Lookout coming pre-loaded on AT&T phones, new customers may complain about yet another app they have to deal with on a new phone out of the box. Fortunately, Lookout is fairly unobtrusive once it's set-up and doesn't bother users too often.
It's also becoming pretty ubiquitous. With the addition of AT&T, Lookout now partners with three out of the four major U.S. carriers to pre-load its app on Android devices. Lookout is also installed by default on many T-Mobile and Sprint handsets.