Knock knock: App unlocks Mac with two thumps on your iPhone

A new iOS app, Knock, uses Bluetooth low energy technology to let you skip over the password process on a Mac and simply tap the back of your iPhone.

Knock

Put that novel password "12345" aside for a moment. The founders of Knock -- an iOS app that launched Tuesday -- want to make getting into your computer as easy as rapping your knuckles through the pocket of your jeans.

And that's exactly what their service allows. Using Bluetooth low energy technology to let iPhones communicate with their Mac brethren when in proximity to one another, the Knock app turns two steady knocks on the front or back of your phone into a secure unlocking tool to let users bypass the Mac password screen.

The iOS app is $3.99 and works in conjunction with a free Mac counterpart. It only works on select computers: MacBook Airs and 2011 Mac Minis or newer; MacBook Pros and 2012 iMacs or newer; and Mac Pros from this year only.

For the app to work (which it does with moderate regularity in my limited experience), your iPhone must have the app running in the background at all times. However, the phone does not need to be unlocked to register the knocking.

"We both locked our computers because our employers made us, but we did just about everything we could to avoid typing our password," co-founder William Henderson says on the Knock Web site. Henderson is a former Square employee who worked on the payment company's mobile-wallet product. "If you create an unusable system, people will simply work around you. Right now security is annoying, so people are walking around with their data totally unprotected. We want to change that," he adds.

So Henderson teamed with Jon Schlossberg, a former user experience designer at e-commerce company Bonobos, to found Knock and bring the same kind of smooth functionality Square Wallet employs to the act of password unlocking.

To showcase both the power and humor behind hitting one's expensive piece of glass to bypass a password, Knock released this promotional video.

About the author

Nick Statt is a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.

 

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