• 06.21.12

Ford Schools Apple With Clever Phone Login App…Wait, What?

Ford wants to promote their keyfree car entry, so they created an app that solves password management on Macs.

Ford Schools Apple With Clever Phone Login App…Wait, What?

I can’t pretend to understand the logic. Ford, like many other auto manufacturers, has embraced NFC key fobs, allowing you to unlock your car without fiddling with pesky keys. And to demonstrate it, they created one of the most awesome password tools for computers ever–one that has nothing at all to do with cars.


Ford Keyfree is a Chrome extension that stores passwords for Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Then, whenever you’re near your Mac using a pre-approved smartphone, the app can “unlock” these sites automatically via Bluetooth. Your phone serves as your ID, thanks to the unique identifiers already in Bluetooth.

In an actual use case scenario, this means you can sit down to your computer, and without hitting any buttons at all, log in to your social networks. It’s freaking magic.

I’m a diehard LastPass user, loving the service that autofills uniquely generated passwords into all websites for me. But now I’m incredibly jealous of this one-off app being marketed by a car company. Why can’t a LastPass app handle the entire process for me? Actually, scratch that, if I already own an iPhone and a Mac, why isn’t Apple doing this on its own? Talk about incentive to have a closed ecosystem…though, if two iPhone owners walked into a room with one Mac, exactly what would happen?

I have no idea why Ford, backed by Ogilvy Paris, released this app (other than to have stories like this written about it, of course), but I’m sure glad they did. Because Ford Keyfree is an elegant piece of work, no matter who’s behind it. And besides, all those tech companies are getting way too cocky for their own good.

As of today, the release is by Ford France, and I’m not spotting how exactly you can download it. An international version should be coming soon.

[Update: Many have noted, very reasonably, that Bluetooth isn’t the most secure of connections–Bluetooth IDs can be cloned/copied–which honestly may or may not matter in practice, depending on the tech-savviness of your family and coworkers, and whether your purpose of using a password is to protect your accounts from peers around you or complete strangers across the internet.]


[Hat tip: psfk]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.