At WWDC this year, Apple announced a feature that would allow people with an Apple Watch to unlock their Macs without having to type in their passwords. While this is a great feature, there is absolutely no reason why this feature didn't arrive on the iPhone. Especially considering that, since the iPhone 5S, we have integrated TouchID, which can work as a super convenient way is sure to unlock your Mac.
Fortunately, although Apple may have overlooked this handy feature (and the fact that Apple Watch is not as common as the iPhone), app developers have seen it as an opportunity and have created a number of apps that allow users to block and unlock their Macs, through their iPhones. These apps also use Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), which means there is no significant battery consumption, even if the apps are used consistently, every day. I have used many of these apps and found 4 of them, which I think are worth your time and money. Then, here are the 4 best apps to unlock Mac using an iPhone:
MacID by far the best app of all the apps that I used. Not only does it use proximity very well, to lock and unlock your Mac, but it also does it reliably enough. Not only that, MacID also has the function of setting " Tap to unlock "on the Mac. This feature allows users to record a specific tap pattern on their Mac's trackpad and then unlock the Mac using the same pattern. Although this feature may not be very secure, rather useful, and I definitely don't mind have it in the app.
The app requires users to pair their phone via Bluetooth with their Mac and to enter the login password on the app once, after which the app works. There are many options available to adjust the distance the Mac locks and unlocks. When the user crosses the threshold, the app automatically locks their Mac and sends a notification (which can be disabled if the user wishes) stating that their Mac was locked. Re-entering the minimum distance threshold automatically sends a notification to the user's iPhone, informing him that his Mac wants to be unlocked. The user can then choose whether to use TouchID to unlock their Mac or ignore the notification, which will keep their Mac locked.
Install: Desktop client (free), iOS app ($ 4)
Tether another good app to lock and unlock a Mac using an iPhone or iPad. The app uses Bluetooth LE to monitor the signal from the iPhone to the Mac, using which it evaluates the distance between the iPhone and the Mac. When this distance greater than a distance set by the user (customizable), the app automatically locks the user's Mac and unlocks it automatically when the user is within the distance set by the Mac. The app works quite well, and also completely freeso it's definitely worth a try.
The Tether doesn't provide any additional functionality, like setting up a touch pattern on the trackpad, so if that's something you think you want from an app, Tether isn't for you.
Install: (Desktop Client, free, iOS App, free)
3. Near the padlock
Near Lock the first app I tried when I looked for apps that would allow iPhones to unlock Macs via TouchID, and it works quite well. Near Lock, like any other app on this list, use Bluetooth LE to make sure it doesn't drain the iPhone (or Mac) battery. The apps they work with the same proximity principle, which means that the moment you cross the set distance threshold, the nearby lock automatically locks your Mac and will ask you to unlock it when you re-enter the threshold distance.
For $ 4, the app is no better than MacID in any way and I would recommend readers to try MacID, unless they absolutely want the extra features offered by MacID. Near Lock apps are free, both on Mac and iOS, however the free iOS app doesn't work in the background, making it basically useless, except to test the functionality of the app. I totally agree with these "try before you buy" apps; just saying
Install: Desktop client (free), iOS app (free, $ 4)
Knock an app that seems really promising to me. It can allow users to unlock your Mac simply by tapping on your iPhone screen ; very similar to the Tap Pattern function in MacID, except the pattern cannot be defined, and always only "two strokes" on the iPhone. There is also an option to request TouchID authentication before unlocking the Mac, which, in my opinion, is a good idea to have in the app. Not everyone would find it suitable for typing on their iPhone screen whenever they wanted to unlock their Mac.
While this app seemed very promising to me, and the presentation was brilliant, it just doesn't work well enough to load $ 4.99 for it. The time it took for the app to recognize that I was close enough to unlock it was simply too long, and I ended up typing my password instead of waiting for the app to ask me to touch (knock!) The phone (which, by the way it's a rather strange thing to see at work … or at home).
Install: Desktop client (free), iOS app ($ 4.99)
Unlock your Mac automatically with your iPhone
Thanks to TouchID, Bluetooth LE and the incredible amount of work done by the developers, users can easily lock and unlock their Mac, reliably and automatically. If leaving Bluetooth running may not seem very appealing to most people (in terms of battery), since apps use Bluetooth LE, users don't have to worry about draining the battery on their iPhone or Mac. If I had to recommend one of the apps that I have included in this list, I would say MacID. I have been using it for a long time, and it works very well. Sometimes I have encountered delays, but even in this case they are very short and are nothing compared to delays and problems with the rest of the available apps.
Ever wanted your Mac to unlock automatically or with TouchID when you get close? If so, which apps did you try and what (if any) problems did you experience with those apps? We would like to know your experience with apps that allow locking and unlocking Macs based on proximity to the iPhone. Also, if we have lost your favorite app from this list, be sure to drop us a line in the comments section below.