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Tapplock One review: Tapplock puts the future of padlocks at your fingertips

This $99 smart padlock mixes past and present with Bluetooth, fingerprint reading and Morse code.

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Molly Price

Former Editor

See full bio
5 min read

Editor's note, June 1: It's come to our attention that the Tapplock One may have a design flaw, one that allows an attacker to twist off the back plate and use a standard screwdriver to quickly disassemble the lock. We've haven't independently confirmed this yet, and are currently investigating. We'll let you know what we find out.

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Tapplock One

The Good

The Tapplock One offers the classic design of a padlock with added smarts.

The Bad

Security researchers have pointed out physical and software security issues with the Tapplock One. Firmware updates are reportedly in the works.

The Bottom Line

The Tapplock One offers multiple ways to unlock, but security flaws and questions about physical durability mean we can't recommend this lock in its current version.

Update, June 15: We've tested repeatedly, and can confirm: Not every Tapplock is vulnerable to the suction cup trick. The Tapplock's digital security also appears to have major issues. In response, the company says it's solving security issues with a firmware update rolling out now. After the first report of phone hacking, another security researcher found anyone can obtain sensitive information, locate and open the lock by pulling the information directly from the company's API server. The Tapplock One is no longer available for purchase directly through Amazon. Tapplock is reportedly working on these issues, but until they are fully resolved, we can't recommend the Tapplock One. 

Our original review, originally rated 3.5 stars, follows:

Padlocks might not be the stars of the home security world, but they've quietly offered reliable security for decades, guarding tool sheds, bikes, middle school lockers and everything in between. In recent years, Padlocks have evolved to include technologies like Bluetooth and even fingerprint reading.

Tapplock One is a $99 padlock that unlocks via Bluetooth, fingerprint or Morse code (yes, really). With two methods of entry in addition to Bluetooth, I'd recommend Tapplock as a flexible way to secure and monitor valuables without a combination code or key. So if you thought you'd always have to remember to turn your lock three times to the right, once to the left and back to the right again, those days are over. Now you just need a fingerprint.

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The Tapplock One is a $99 Bluetooth padlock that also includes Morse code entry and a fingerprint reader. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Tapplock One is the debut model from Tapplock, and it's available internationally, with the $99 price converting to roughly £71 and AU$129. The padlock comes in sterling silver, gunmetal gray and midnight black finishes. On the front there is a square fingerprint reader that the Tapplock team claims can unlock the padlock in under 0.8-second. In my testing with a stopwatch, I was able to clock a sub-1-second time on several attempts.

Tapplock app 

Setting up the Tapplock requires downloading the Tapplock app. There, you'll create a login and pair the padlock to your phone via Bluetooth. Once you've paired them, you'll be able to lock or unlock the Tapplock One and create fingerprint profiles and Morse code combinations in the app. The Tapplock stores up to 500 fingerprints, so you can grant access to a long list of friends and family before fingerprint entries run out. 

Of course, adding people and fingerprints to the system requires the person to be physically present, and only the master account can make those changes. That's good, since it prevents a friend with shared access from adding another person without your permission.

Granting Bluetooth access for other users is simple enough through the Tapplock app. Invite a user to the Tapplock app by adding their name and email. Once they've installed the app, they will also be able to control the Tapplock One via Bluetooth. 

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The Tapplock app manages Bluetooth access, fingerprint profiles and morse code settings.

Screenshot by Molly Price/CNET

Tapplock doesn't limit the number of users you can add, and there are start and end dates and times if you'd like to specify exactly when a user has access to the lock. An activity log in the Tapplock app shows when the padlock was unlocked, which user unlocked it, and the address where the unlocking took place. You can revoke user access (Bluetooth and fingerprint) at any time.

Morse code 

Tapplock also uses a fun and interesting third entry option called Morse code. As you might expect, this mode lets you unlock the Tapplock with a combination of long and short presses of the power button. A short press on the power button acts as a "dot" and a long press on the power button acts as a "dash." In the Tapplock app, you can create a Morse code with 6 to 12 dots or dashes. To use the code, press the power button beneath the fingerprint reader three times, initiating a green blinking indicator light. Enter your short- and long-press combination to unlock the lock. I can't see many use cases for this method, but it is one way to give someone access if they don't have a smartphone handy and haven't registered their fingerprints for the padlock.

The Tapplock One is powered by a rechargeable battery and comes with a magnetic charging cord (though you'll need your own USB wall adapter to plug it in) that connects to the charging nodes on the bottom of the lock. Tapplock estimates a single two-hour charge provides 3,500 unlocks or about one year of normal use. You can check battery status from the Tapplock app, when connected to the padlock via Bluetooth. 

Hardware

The Tapplock One is rated for IP66 water resistance and works between 14 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. That might limit you a bit if you live in a cold climate and want to use this padlock outdoors. That IP66 rating also means the Tapplock One is only truly water-resistant while the padlock is closed. Leave it hanging unlocked in a soaking rain, and you might have issues. The Tapplock One's metal body is made of zinc alloy, while the shackle (the U-shaped handle) is made of 7mm reinforced stainless steel. A double-layer lock design protects the padlock against prying or what the lock industry calls "shimming" -- forcing an object into the latch mechanism to unlock it.  

Tapplock isn't done developing its locks. The company previewed two new models at CES 2018, including the Tapplock One Plus, a more water-resistant model (upping its IP rating to 67) and the Tapplock Lite, a smaller but just as capable version of the Tapplock One and One Plus that will be available in a wider variety of colors. Both models are expected to appear on the Tapplock website this spring.

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Beneath the lock are a power button and charging node. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Other Bluetooth options

There are other Bluetooth padlocks out there, including indoor and outdoor models from established brands like Master Lock. The Tapplock One is the first Bluetooth padlock I've tested, but it already stands out from the crowd by offering three very different entry methods in a stylish, yet traditional design.

The Tapplock One's closest competitor feature-wise is the $80 Nokē Bluetooth Padlock. It doesn't have a fingerprint reader, but it does use a similar Morse code-style entry method called Quick-Click which unlocks the padlock by pumping the lock's handle in a short and long pattern. You can also purchase a Bluetooth fob for the Nokē, so you don't need to pull out your smartphone to open the lock. That's the same approach Kwikset took with the Kevo Fob for Kwikset's Kevo line of smart locks.

Tapplock One's entry methods, solid design and useful app make it a great all around padlock. If you use padlocks often, and especially if you need to share access with others, the Tapplock One is the padlock I'd recommend. 

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