Motorola unveils one-tap-you're-in authentication to Moto X smartphone

Moto X, the first Google phone, shows one step along the search giant's authentication strategy

Motorola Friday unveiled a thumb-sized clip that provides one-tap authentication to the forthcoming Moto X smartphone.

The Skip clip replaces the PIN used to unlock the Moto X, which is expected to ship next week. It's passcode activation without the manual input.

Users attach Skip somewhere on their clothing and access their phones just by tapping it on the clip. Skip also features Skip dots, which are stickers that can be afixed on desks, or in rooms or cars. The Moto X is tapped on the dot and the user stays logged into the phone if they stay in range.

With the phone placed on the dot, users can employ voice commands to operate phone features like setting the alarm.

Google, which closed its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility in May 2012, is working extensively on new authentication techniques. In May this year, it announced a five-year road map for strong authentication with smartphones as one area of focus. Moto X is the first "Google phone."

Google's plan is to develop authentication methods that are "higher friction" to execute but are once-per-device. It also plans to use biometric and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. Motorola has not revealed the technology behind Skip, but popular belief points to NFC.

Motorola's Skip is designed to simplify initial access to Moto X and make it more convenient to use password-protection on devices, which may contain applications that store passwords and allow access just by tapping an icon. Applications configured in such a way are easily compromised if the smartphone is lost or stolen.

A survey earlier this year by McAfee found that a third of smartphone users don't password protect their devices. In addition, 15% of survey respondents said they save password data within apps for continuous log-on.

Motorola said on its blog announcing Skip that a typical person unlocks their smartphone 39 times each day.

In May, Regina Dugan, a senior VP at Motorola, showed off the company's ideas on future authentication methods, including a temporary tattoo and authentication pills a user swallows .

Skip is the first deliverable in that line of research, according to the company

Motorola said on its blog that Skip with three Skip dots eventually will be available on It did not announce pricing, but earlier today on its Web site Skip was advertised for $19.99 before the page was pulled down.