So can the NFC Ring of Omnipotence unlock an Android phone?

    The short answer is yes.

    Last summer, on Kickstarter began fundraising for NFC-rings ( post on Habré giktayms ). The creators did not promise anything super-innovative, but putting together the famous, but not popular pieces into something convenient and familiar is also a good idea. It is not surprising that the collection, although it was not particularly noticeable, but still successfully completed. For a whole year, the guys wrote letters about their difficulties, about battles and victories, about falls and take-offs.

    As a result, a long-awaited letter, a couple of weeks of waiting, brightened up by the Russian Post and the lack of tracking, and now I have the desired envelope in my hands.

    By tradition, I would like to admit that recently the Russian Post has been delivering parcels quite quickly, but it hasn’t deliver mental anguish.

    So, a small dense postal envelope with a wrong side made of natural bumps and an elongated black box inside.

    I backed the Collection sentence:
    Normal NFC Ring, Alpha Ring and the option of a Stealth Bomber Edition Ring

    Alfa-ring: the same as usual, only two times better than wider.
    Stealth Bomber: The first rule of the owner of such a ring is not to talk about this ring.

    What came to me in the end:
    - two ordinary rings, each with two colored inserts covering the nfc-tag: blue + rainbow and black + black.
    - three nfc tags for creating your own rings on a 3D printer ( video guide , samples on Tinkercad )
    - a set of stickers for the phone to indicate where to put the ring.
    - defective wide ring as a gift (marriage concerns appearance - small chips and muddy stains. The ring itself works)
    - chain
    - quick guide

    Where is the normal alpha ring? Instead, they apologized for a promotional code for their store. Alpha rings resisted for a long time, so the management decided to send out orders without them, so as not to increase the delayed time. Now these rings can be ordered in their store.

    What about the Stealth Bomber Edition? One of the usual rings was supposed to be made of ferrous metal (this is exactly the stealth edition), or at least with the insert of a fashionable scaly-carbon color, but at the moment when polls were sent about colors and sizes, such options were turned off. Now, such rings exist only in the form of a render; manufacturing problems continue to this day. They promise to win Carboniferous just about, but there is almost no news about the secretive version (but still there is).

    View on Stealth Bomber render

    So, having admired and squealing with delight, I put my first tick “received” on the kickstarter and proceeded to a careful examination.

    First of all, we need a phone with NFC and the official application installed on it, Android and WinPhone 8 are supported . But there are nuances - Nexus will most likely see a ring, but it will be powerless to do something ( comment thread ). Samsung devices only read Alpha rings successfully.
    Blackberry, Android and Raspberry Pi can also work with rings using other people's applications or modules.

    I was lucky - on HTC One M8 the official application works, but periodically crashes after recording :)

    If possible, without any special surprises - yes, it can contain a link or text, when reading it shows the text or is immediately sent by link. Both writing and reading in the application itself are quite convenient - a color scheme with nfc-sensitive places on the phone unfolds on the screen. My device’s rings are visible right at the camera, opposite the flash, so the stickers weren’t useful.

    View color scheme

    As promised, in the ring you can write two tags on both sides. It is assumed that one tag will be public - a Facebook or github profile, for example, or a Bitcoin key (no, seriously, they have it!), And the second is Read-only with the ability to unlock the phone or open the door of the house.

    View menu screenshot

    Accordingly, the ring must be worn with the public side up, and the second hidden. So color inserts on both sides would be nice to order different colors, not black and black.

    Now let's look at the rings using some other application to learn more about their pedigree (for example, NFC Tools ).

    View screenshots of NFC Tools

    NFC Tools let you do a few more things than the official app. But there is one exclusive person only from the creators and only for Android. Drum roll - the ring can unlock the phone. In the comments on the hub and in questions on the kickster there was a lot of information, which briefly boiled down to "on an unrouted device - it is impossible." What really is?

    The two marks on the ring are initially rewritable. It is necessary to choose which side will be a dark secret, write magic spells on it and make Read-only. All operations are performed using an additional official application and either by a guide inside the application or with an eye on the instructions. In general, it’s not a big deal to add a ring, set up a lock screen and add a pin code in case the ring is unavailable or the NFC mode is disabled on the phone.

    Look at adding a pin code

    What it looks like: I left my normal unlock enabled. Locked the phone, started to unlock. At first the standard lock screen appeared, I entered my password, then the second lock screen appeared already from NFC Ring with a request to unlock the ring. Not a problem, we make a magic pass with a little ring - everything worked, cheers!

    But we will not stop there? I decided to turn off the usual unlock and rely only on the ring. The application showed me a lot of caps and terrible curses, I agreed to its conditions and once again checked that I turned off the standard protection. Locked the phone, started unlocking - but oh-oh-oh-oh, why is that what is it like this!

    See sudden scary letters

    I had to unlock with a pin code. In fact, there is a third way to unlock - enter the password for the main google-account of the phone. But in the case of two-factor authorization, this again does not work.

    To crank up such adventures - unlocking only with a ring without a standard lock-screen - when using two-factor authorization, you must first prepare and add a specially generated password to the application .

    The NFC-lockscreen itself has a bunch of settings, the ability to set wallpapers - and the ability to get an unlocked phone after installing unsuccessful wallpapers on an unsuccessful phone and crashing the application as a result.

    View lockscreen settings

    And all of a sudden, a fantastic story about - well, petty vulnerability, probably? After some time, it occurred to me to give this application a second chance. I successfully set everything up, double-checked and absolutely calm, having played enough, I turned off the NFC in the phone.

    Turning on the phone before leaving the house was a surprise. Of the three unlock options, the ring is not available to me, the password of the main google-account of the phone, due to two-factor authentication, will not help again, and the pin code ... Yes. I forgot the pin code.

    During intense thought about what information from the phone I must save, and weighing the probability of remembering the pin code, my hands twisted the device nervously and decided to use the good old “turn-and-turn” method. Waiting, loading - and happiness, joy, no blocking! I darted into the settings and turned on the ill-fated NFC a second before the phone locked. And successfully unlocked it with a ring.

    The information about this incident - a few seconds without blocking after a reboot, and you can reboot directly from the lockscreen - passed to the author. He considered it insignificant and, probably, was right. But the thought of using the ring in earnest to unlock it never occurs to me. In addition, with regard to energy consumption, a miracle did not happen. My HTC lasts about a day with constantly running bluetooth for pebble. After turning on NFC, the life time was reduced to 5 hours.

    Perhaps you can use the ring as a substitute for something like a ticket on the subway, driving to school or work? But, for example, this is how my penetration looks like.

    See my drive

    The flowers in the screenshot cover the numbers and, as it were, tell us that we have our own real security service, which does not allow transferring penetration to third-party objects.

    As a result, the most suitable use for the ring seems to me to be a business card - a regular link to a github / linkedin profile or a real contact card (the latter is well described in ABBYY's material ).

    So what do we have in the end? Beautiful and neat little ring, the operation of fashionable nfc technology. Two tags - room for play.
    Is it worth it? As a backer, I paid for 3 separate tags, 3 ready-made rings and a promotional code for another 50 British pounds a year ago. Now for each asking for 30 pounds. At all well-known venues, you can buy a decent-looking nfc-ring from $ 15 - or the tag itself for a couple of dollars. Yes, of course, in this case, you can lose amazing applications (I do not have other rewritable labels for verification - if they are confirmed or disproved in the comments, I will add it to the post). But the application for unlocking is inconvenient even if NFC is constantly on, and the main application, to be honest, can easily be replaced by any other.

    PS if there are suggestions what functions of rings or applications should be considered in more detail - write in the comments, check and add to the post.

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