Motorola Skip -- unlock your Moto X with a tap
A few weeks ago, I discovered a product on Kickstarter called the NFC Ring. It is an interesting concept -- you unlock your NFC-enabled smartphone by tapping it with a ring worn on your finger. Today, Motorola announces a very similar accessory for the Moto X which is called Skip. However, this product is not a piece of jewelry.
According to Motorola, "Skip is a thin, thumb-sized clip that pairs with your Moto X and unlocks it with a simple tap. Wear Skip on your shirt sleeve, shirt hem, belt loop -- wherever it feels most comfortable. It's fast, easy and secure. It provides all the benefits of a PIN without the hassle".
The company explains the necessity of the product by saying, "At 2.3 seconds each time the phone is unlocked, it adds up to a lot of time spent entering 4-digit PINs or patterns. Because it's cumbersome and slow, many people never bother with authentication at all, or they use fast but easily-guessed PINs like 0000".
In other words, the product will save time and potentially make the smartphone more secure. While I appreciate the use of technology to save time, that benefit is largely negligible. However, the argument for security is interesting. If it will motivate people to secure their devices then it is definitely a big win for the user.
My concern however, is that the Skip can make security weaker. If a woman was to clip the Skip onto her purse and keep the smartphone inside it, a thief could easily steal both at the same time. Also, a mugger could demand a Moto X and the Skip from the person they rob at gunpoint.
Another concern is that it will be ruined by a washing machine. While the NFC ring is always on the user's finger, the Skip can be clipped to a piece of clothing. There is a very high chance that people will put the Skip in the washer and dryer and have it ruined.
While the device is only reported to work with the Moto X, there is a good probability that it will work with any NFC-enabled Android device. If it doesn't work with alternative devices out of the box, the Android community will likely make it possible with a bit of hackery.
According to Motorola, "For a limited time, Motorola Skip will be included for free with all orders of Moto X through Moto Maker". While "free" is always appreciated, Moto Maker will initially be an AT&T exclusive. So, if you buy your Moto X from a different carrier, you will not get a free Skip -- lame!