In my previous blogs I have written about issues in finger print scanner for Samsung Galaxy S5 with Microsoft Exchange email. More and more people are asking for resolutions for finger print scanner and Microsoft Exchange 8 digit PIN requirements.
I will review two new apps to deal with the situation for new models of Samsung Galaxy S6 & Note 4 (tested) and also for other android devices that have finger print scanners.
The issues have been persistent and common across the Samsung Galaxy phone’s fingerprint scanners. This is one of the biggest challenges for new users who purchase Samsung phones and want to sync their professional emails. However, they are asked 8 digit PIN requirements for Microsoft Exchange instead of allowing finger print scanner to identify the phone user at locked screen. This is one of the biggest letdown for android users and needs to be addressed by OEMs and Android dev teams. iPhone users do not face this problem as the finger print recognition technology takes the 8 digit pin requirement and maps it to Finger print of user thereby letting them login and use MS Exchange.
The two apps are TypeMail and OWA WebMail. They work in similar fashion to bypass the 8 digit PIN requirements but have their pros and cons from security level which I will discuss:
TypeMail (formerly BlueMail)
TypeMail is a beautiful app which gets the job done quickly. You can alternatively configure a Gmail, YahooMail, Outlook, Aol, and Exchange. The best part is, it is free!
The app looks very similar to Gmail android app and you can do all basic functions including tasks. The configuration of email is very simple and does not ask for 8 digit PIN on phone’s locked screen. It lets you use your fingerprint scanner to login to phone and never prompts the 8 Digit PIN. The app also integrates well with android watches so you can also see the Exchange emails on your watch. I would say the design and layout are impressively beautiful.
Mark your emails as read, archived or even delete them from the app. You can also view all your folders which can be synced along with tasks. Features like mobile printing and signatures are available too. One of the features I personally like is snoozing emails for later use and view.
Calendar feature is not available and it can be addressed in the next app review.
From security point of view, TypeMail is designed to help you manage all your email accounts. Whenever you link your email accounts for example Gmail or Microsoft Exchange, the TypeMail takes the information and securely accesses the same but keeps it temporarily on their server. Unfortunately, this credential data is stored on TypeMail servers leading to the security concern.
If you have a very secure email confidentiality requirements at your office, I would NOT recommend using the app. If you are good to use a third party server to securely access your personal & professional emails, then read the disclaimer on TypeMail website. Some professional organizations have high degree of security restrictions and might not allow you to use the type mail. It’s like sharing your user id and password with a third party.
OWA WebMail (Secured & supports calendar)
This snazzy little app does wonders from security point of view & I highly recommend it. This app is not aesthetically beautiful but gets the job done most efficiently. The bonus is that you can sync your calendars too which is not possible in any other app that I have seen so far. Most of the apps available on Google Play do not work with Microsoft Exchange Calendar. However, there is a way to bypass the calendar issue, which can be found in my previous blog.
Tasks & Folders view is available too. It is free but you will see small advertisements below which is ok for me.
How it works?
There is an extension of Microsoft Exchange server to give access on internet through web interface which is called Outlook WebApp. Many organizations use this feature for users to connect without Microsoft Outlook software when they are remote or when they don’t have office laptop devices.
OWA WebMail uses this kind of web interface to access your email and parse them to a different layout which looks like your regular phone email app. The data and all secured information is not stored at their server reducing the security concerns faced by organizations and you. It helps in accessing information exactly in the same way like Outlook Web App would do. It’s similar to using Web email in Internet Explorer on a laptop. The IT security issues and protocols do not get affected while using this app. The information synced from your phone to the outlook server is secured.
The downside has some minor bugs that makes you login sometimes as intermittently lose connection. Your email id & settings are stored locally on the phone within the application interface and might require an extra click to login. This extra click on login button is not a big task and a good trade off if you really want your professional emails to be secured.
Get it here on Google Play: OWA Webmail
The above two apps bypass the requirement of 8 digit PIN for Microsoft Exchange on Android locked screens. I am not sure how soon Samsung or Android will address this concern. Their development team need to imitate the security protocol used by iPhone fingerprint scanner. So far the four applications found and highlighted in my previous blogs have got a lot off traffic over Internet and on my blog. The reviews have helped thousands of users across many countries to access their professional emails with ease and without worrying for security teams restricting usage.
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