Stop typing your password. Just knock twice on your iPhone, and your Mac unlocks.
Can your mobile phone become a replacement for manually typing in a password? That’s the promise of a new application called Knock, launching today, which uses an iPhone paired with a Mac desktop or laptop computer to log you in to your locked machine. The system takes advantage of the newer low-energy Bluetooth technology to enable the connection between the two devices, allowing you to just knock (you know, knock, like on a door) on your iPhone to login. But the company has ambitions to expand beyond unlocking computers, and envisions bringing Knock to browsers to log into websites, and eventually letting you “knock” to open anything, including even your home’s front door, perhaps.
The company was founded by William Henderson, who previously worked on the Wallet team at Square, and Jon Schlossberg, who led user experience at Bonobos. The two teamed up earlier this year after being introduced by a mutual friend. They soon had their first Knock prototype built after just a few weeks.
Knock has two components – the desktop app that runs on your Mac and the iPhone app. When you knock on the iPhone screen, the Mac app automatically enters your password and unlocks the computer. Your Mac is still protected with a password, the app just saves you from the hassle of typing that long password every time you sign-in.
And if your iPhone isn’t around, you will still be able to sign in to your Mac by manually typing the password.
Know to Unlock is currently available for Mac only but a Windows version is also in the works. You need an iPhone running on iOS 7 and not a very ancient Macbook or iMac running on Mountain Lion or Mac OS X Mavericks.
Getting started with the product is also simple. You first download the free Mac app and the $3.99 iPhone app. Because Knock uses Bluetooth LE, it will only work on iPhone 4S and up, as well as on newer Mac computers (2011 MacBook Air or newer, 2012 MacBook Pro or new, 2012 iMac or newer, 2011 Mac mini or newer, and the 2013 Mac Pro).
You then launch the app on the Mac and iPhone, and you’re prompted to turn Bluetooth on if it’s not already. Then Knock instructs you to lock your phone. Unlike with Bluetooth, that’s the extent of your involvement with the pairing process – the app sets itself up on its own.