Motorola has unveiled an accessory for its new Moto X smartphone that its marketers claim "provides all the benefits of a PIN without the hassle." That claim is only half right, but you wouldn't know it from a blog post introducing the Motorola Skip and all the headlines that followed. Left out of the coverage are some key protections people may lose when using the thumb-sized clip.
Yes, the wearable fob, when electronically paired with a Moto X, instantly unlocks phones with a simple tap, skipping the step of first entering a personal identification number or swiping a pattern. Making things even easier are three "dots" that accompany the clip and can be affixed to desks, bedside tables, and other trusted zones. Paired phones can be unlocked by tapping them on the tiny stickers—again, with no PIN or pattern required. Assuming it takes 2.3 seconds each time a four-digit PIN is entered and people unlock their phones from 39 to 100 times each day—as Motorola figures claim—a device like Skip can save huge amounts of time over the lifetime of a phone.
But as is almost always the case with security, the added convenience comes with a cost. In exchange for making things easier, people who use Skip may be vulnerable to several threats that are impractical against mobile devices protected only by old-fashioned personal identification numbers.