15
Aug
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Update: Motorola posted more concrete details on the Skip in an official blog post. It's made out of fabric, not metal, which implies that the clasp uses a couple of magnets. On the plus side, the Skip includes three "dots" - NFC stickers that can be paired in the same manner and bypass a lock screen or PIN. The Skip will be included free with Moto Maker purchases.

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Near-field communication has some pretty cool applications. With a little work you can set it up to automatically unlock your phone, say, when you put it in a dock. Motorola thinks that's a pretty neat idea, and also that you need something similar for your pants. To that end they've started selling the Skip, an NFC-equipped clip that will work in conjunction with an official app to automatically unlock your Moto X. And it costs $20.

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What? If Motorola is already getting flak for the "overpriced" Moto X, I shudder to think what the detractors will say when they see this thing on store shelves. Even Samsung (they of the $60 flip cover) would probably hesitate to put such an obvious markup on an accessory. The Skip presumably includes one NFC tag, which goes for $2-3 per unit in most retail packs. Even assuming that the Skip is made out of metal, there's no way they could justify charging more than $5-10 for it.

The Skip has appeared on Motorola's online store with an apparent tie-in promotion for MotoMaker, the tool for the custom versions of the Moto X. The price is $19.99, which makes the advertising copy a little odd: "Limited time offer for MotoMaker™ for Moto X, a $19.99 value." You can purchase one right now, if you really must. There's an instructional page on Motorola's support site which links to a Play Store app that doesn't exist yet. It will probably be a Moto X exclusive when the phone launches, and I'll bet it will be promoted as an add-on for MotoMaker as well.

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The idea of an NFC unlock seems a little redundant - even with a pattern lock, most people can get past their lockscreen in under two seconds. But if you really like the idea, don't buy this. Please. Instead, buy an $8 money clip and an $11 pack of NFC tags. Then you'll have five tags left over to experiment with, and enough change for a pack of gum.

Source: Motorola via Droid-Life

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • suprah

    or i can place a nfc sticker on my belt...

    • Marsg

      Or a money clip and you can clip it anywhere

  • Ruben Martinez Jr.

    True that it's overpriced, but at least I don't have to think about too much set-up beforehand, and know there will be Motorola support should anything go wrong. $20 isn't TOO bad.

    • Ben Baranovsky

      That's true. It looks like the Skip comes written with some data that lets the phone know so open the set-up dialog. Users will hopefully be able to write that data to their own NFC tags in the future.

  • william harrison

    Your stupid if you buy this just make your own.

    • Ben Baranovsky

      Despite the fact that I agree with you, I must point out the irony in you misspelling "you're" and then calling others stupid.

      • Ruben Martinez Jr.

        Not to mention the run-on...

      • william harrison

        It was keyboard prediction that I didn't catch.

        • Dude

          Stoopid "smart" phones. Doh!

  • Ben Baranovsky

    There is no way I would pay more than $10 for that, but even that's high. Manufacturers need to learn that users want quality accessories at a fair price and that launch WITH the phone, not four months after. I'm looking at you, Google. The first one to figure that out is going to make some money.

    • Ruben Martinez Jr.

      Very little money, though, as their profit margin will be minimal.

      • Ben Baranovsky

        That's true, but it depends how much they sell. They can either sell a few units at a high price or a ton of units at a low price. The main thing I'm thinking here is keeping customers happy. Happy customers come back.

        • Ruben Martinez Jr.

          True, but I doubt we'll ever sell Samsung or even Moto on that notion :/

  • Stephen Fronda

    I'm just going to make my own. Simple enough. I have some spare NFC tags laying around anyway

  • atlouiedog

    How about one made out of surgical grade materials that I can implant under my skin? That way I won't lose it and I can be returned home if I run away.

  • kindrudekid

    Release the damn phone already, its been 2 months without a phone now for me arghh!

    • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

      Droid Bionic says Deja Vu..

      • kindrudekid

        God i waited for that ONE phone and was so disappointed, got the RAZR and bam a month later Galaxy Nexus. FML.

  • GreatNews

    The calculations what you made of a belt clip and NFC tags makes more sense than Motorola's idea...

  • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

    Fashion accessory.. think along those lines and you suddenly see why its ridiculously priced!

  • louched1

    Unreasonably overpriced accessories? Maybe there's something to all this "copying Apple" talk after all. ;)

    This sort of thing would be hailed as groundbreaking, innovative and affordable in Apple land (if iOS were capable of using NFC), but Android users have much higher standards for themselves.

  • MeCampbell30

    lol what? Oh Motorola.

  • Terry

    If this is a direct unlock from screen off I don't know of any way to do this today without a rooted phone and modified NFC apk. If you can do this it would be very handy.

    • Eric Jones

      I thought that NFC only worked when the phone was unlocked. I wonder how they are getting around this. Is NFC constantly scanning? That could be annoying. I have a tag on my keychain in my pocket, and carry an id card that has NFC with my phone often.

      • Wyatt Neal

        Certain ROMs include this ability, but it's not anything that's present in stock 4.3 which means that Moto has put a little bit of extra sauce in their NFC package. If you want the change, it's relatively trivial to patch in, but most devs will warn against it as a security issue since you can spoof NFC from so far away. I've toyed with the idea of building a whitelist into the NFC component and got it to without issue, I just never liked the UI and decided it was too much effort once I found a ROM that included the "Screen on, but locked" NFC action (VANIR).

      • jacob

        that's not how NFC works. it is supplied power by the NFC enabled battery using induction to create electricity in the circuitry of the NFC chip. This allows it to transmit its code using weak radio signals to the phone's NFC chip.

        http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/near-field-communication3.htm

    • Cory_S

      That's what I find most interesting about this. I only saw the value of NFC when I used a ROM that allowed it to be used with the screen off. As removing the phone from my pocket, waking it up, and then unlocking it...and THEN placing it against a tag was usually a bit silly...I could simply do the task I needed by that time.

  • http://www.dastardlyreport.com ryaninc

    So if a bad guy steals my phone, and also steals my pants...

    • ChavaM

      I hate when that happens.

  • thedosbox

    Why on earth would anyone use a clip? Something you can hang off a keychain would seem to be more useful.

    • wheineman

      You want to pull your keys out every time you unlock your phone?

      • thedosbox

        Brain fart on my part - I was thinking an authenticated bluetooth token. Phone stays unlocked while the token is nearby, locks when it's out of range.

  • ElfirBFG

    $20 isn't a whole lot. For an accessory that will presumably 'just work' it seems like even less. Are there cheaper options? Yes, but they're more complex. This is marketed for the average consumer, not a power user. Most Moto-X users will not root, nor will they make their own NFC tags.

    Order a Skip, download an app, unlock your phone with a tap. If it really is that simple, I think $20 is worth it.

    • Nathan Fletcher

      Even I, the person who hates the overpriced google accessories (nexus 7 2012 dock anyone?) agrees with you. 20 dollars doesn't seem like to much for something of this nature that just works. Also, many people i know won't want to download and have to worry about programming a second nfc program.

  • PhilNelwyn

    "Instead, buy an $8 money clip and an $11 pack of NFC tags."
    No, thanks.
    Firstly: that would be a separate order, so I'd have to pay for the shipping, which would make it more than $20.
    Secondly: that would be ugly IMO.
    Thirdly: do these tags even work on metal?

  • Chris

    Seems like a Motorola trend... and not a good one considering that Google owns them now. With the leak about Motorola assembling the next Nexus device, I am a little worried this won't be like the Nexus 4 2012 :(

  • Thomas Gladdines

    IS this for the people who don't know that you ca unlock it with the power button :S?

    • PhilNelwyn

      Unlock != turn on.

  • thomas2

    All I want is an NFC ring. Who the hell would wear a "clip" for that?

  • Ivan Myring

    How much were those NFC rings from a.couple of weeks ago?

  • Lou

    You know what would be an interesting beneficial idea? An NFC Implant under the skin.

    So the only way it can be quickly unlocked would in your hand under the skin always ready and with you. Not needing some tag which half the time you will forget in a rush.

  • IronManCC

    When I see "a $19.99 value", on *any* kind of item or perk, I view that as mostly hype - As in, "And if you order NOW, we'll throw in the Skip, a $19.99 value!" or "Pay only $9.99 for the Skip, normally $19.99."

  • Alex Chapin

    You have to remember that the Moto X is most likely targeted at the mass market not tech geeks. I'd like to see you convince my wife to buy a money clip and android themed nfc tag/sticker to clip on her shirt to save some money. She would much rather spend $20 for something that works well and looks good if she would be interested in this at all.

  • wheineman

    I have been doing this with Tasker for a while now, but why did they choose NFC? If they had gone with Bluetooth LE, then you would simply need to have the token with you (in your pocket, bag, keys, belt...) and it would let your unlock your phone. But instead they choose NFC, which you will need to swipe over every time!

    • Andrei D.

      How can I make something like that? Would it need to be powered/charged?

      • wheineman

        It's rather easy to do with Tasker+Secure Settings. Just setup tasks to disable the lockscreen. Then call those tasks any time a known Bluetooth device is nearby (laptop, headphones, pebble watch). Or just use known WiFi networks to achieve the same thing any time you are at home or work!

        That's all that Moto is doing to detect your home and car!

  • Alex

    I think most of you are missing the point here. This is an essential accessory for the new touchless voice command feature. Remember the active voice works only if the phone does not have the screen lock turned on. With the Skip, the phone can now bypass the screen lock.

  • Glich

    There will be 10 apps doing this with all NFC phones and 5 kickstater projects for variations on this idea in a month.

  • shahlo

    I buy the unlock code for my Motorola Atrix Hd Mb886 from
    safeunlockcode.com and worked well. Now i am consistent of Motorola Atrix Hd
    Mb886.

    r a lo�p
    m�� �T� e.

  • Brad

    Is this really just a NFC sticker? I'd easily make my own with the 500 stickers I have laying around...

  • nfc magnets

    how can i get the android opreating system in my phone , my mobile is GT c3322