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Issue 12.3 ('lJLaL')
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REVIEW

Knock for iPhone

Issue: 12.3 (May/June 2014)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,841
Starting Page Number: 12
Article Number: 12302
Related Link(s): None

Full text of article...

These days we're supposed to keep our computers set to require a password if we haven't used it for a few minutes. That's great if you're in an office full of people and you leave your Mac, but it's a pain to always have to type in your password when you return or when the computer locks while you're on a ten-minute phone call.

That's where Knock for iPhone comes in with a terrific solution. After you install the free Knock menubar app on your Mac and pair it with the Knock app on the phone, the app keeps the connection alive using Bluetooth Low Energy. When you wake up your Mac and it prompts you for your password, just knock twice on the face of your iPhone—instantly the Mac unlocks and you're in, without having to type a password. Your phone can even be in your pocket, as you don't need to see the screen or unlock your phone for the knocking to work.

That's all the app does, which makes its $4 price slightly steep, but it's remarkably convenient. I generally always have my iPhone around when I'm at my computer, and it's vastly easier to tap on it than to type in my password. It seems like a trivial thing, but I suppose it's like the iPhone 5S' TouchID fingerprint sensor—once you get used to the convenience, typing in a password seems old-fashioned and laborious.

Knock is quite reliable and generally works well, though once or twice (months apart) I had trouble where it would become disconnected from my Mac and I had to relink the two. Sometimes knocking twice doesn't work and I have to knock more than once. Knocking also doesn't work as well when the phone is resting on a flat surface, unless the desk is really sturdy and you can knock pretty hard (it uses the iPhone's accelerometer to sense the jarring movement of the knocks). It actually works best when the phone's in your pocket.

With months of use I've noticed no battery drain at all using Knock, though it is annoying seeing the Bluetooth icon active on my phone all the time. There's also a slight security risk using the app—if someone steals your phone, they can get into your Mac. But then I'm not sure the Mac's password setup is all that secure anyway (not when someone has physical access to the machine), and you can always disable Knock if you lose your phone. The bottom line is if you have a recent Mac and iPhone, want a more secure machine and hate typing in your password all the time, get Knock for iPhone.

End of article.