Moto X Skip Rethinks Phone Passwords, Speeding Log In

PHOTO: The Moto X smartphone.
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We look at our smartphone's screen over a hundred times a day, some reports say. Motorola has discovered that the average smartphone user unlocks their phone 39 times a day through the rather annoying process of inputting a PIN or password.

But that is something the phone maker is now hoping to change with a new little device. Called the Skip, the small thumb-sized clip can be tapped to the back of Motorola's new Moto X Android phone to unlock the device. "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," Motorola wrote in a blog post today announcing the new device.

WHAT TO KNOW
  • A small thumb-sized clip can be tapped to the Moto X to unlock the phone
  • Motorola and others are rethinking smartphone security

Along with the Skip come three little "Skip Dots" or stickers. When you place your phone on the sticker it will automatically create a "trusted zone" so your phone will remain unlocked so you can use the Moto X's Touchless Control, which allow you to use the phone with voice commands. For instance, say "Okay Google Now call Mom" and the phone will call mom without ever having to type a mic button.

The Skip and the Dot, which use NFC technology, have to be specifically paired with a Moto X. You can unpair the device if you happen to lose your Skip. The little device will be included with all phones that are ordered through Motorola's Moto Maker site, which will allow users to customize their phones in a selection of colors. It will cost $19.99 on its own.

PHOTO: Tap the Motorola Skip to the back of the Moto X and it will unlock the phone.
Motorola
PHOTO: Tap the Motorola Skip to the back of the Moto X and it will unlock the phone.

The Skip is Motorola's first step to solving the issues of smartphone security. In June, the company showed off some futuristic ideas of authentication, including an electronic tattoo and a pill which would unlock a phone.

The issue of smartphone security and authentication -- confirming that you are the rightful owner of the device -- has become a focus for smartphone makers as "Apple picking" or smartphone thefts has been called a "national epidemic." More than 1.6 million people had their smartphones stolen last year, according to the Federal Communications Commission. And despite software passwords, thieves are able to wipe the software, reset the phones and resell them.

Apple is expected to address the issue directly in the hardware of the next iPhone. According to reports, the next iPhone -- likely called the iPhone 5S -- will have a fingerprint sensor built into the home button of the phone. It would presumably work similarly to fingerprint sensors on laptops -- after you register your print with the phone, when you tap on it you will be allowed to access the software. iOS 7, the next version of the software for the iPhone, also has a feature which requires a user to sign in with their Apple ID when the phone has been reset.

Security experts say that while these different forms of authentication are great, there is still a need for multiple forms of authentication. "Any tool that makes things more convenient but also adds additional authentication is a good thing," McAfee security expert Robert Siciliano told ABC News. "These are little computers now -- they have tons of personal information."

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