Practically everything we do online these days requires a password and, to ensure the security of our digital lives, we’re all advised to use a different password for each service. But unless you use a password manager (something we’d strongly recommend) or have a superb memory, remembering those passwords can get a tad difficult.
One of those passwords will likely be for your Google account – something you use to log into services like Gmail and YouTube, or just browser syncing on Google Chrome. However, the tech giant is keen on simplifying online logins by making it easier, and quicker, to securely access some of its own web services on Android devices without the need for a password.
Google has announced that it’s rolling out a new feature that will allow Android device owners to use the fingerprint scanners on their phones, or their PIN unlock code, to authenticate Google accounts.
While individual apps have long been able to access and use Android’s fingerprint authentication technology, this is the first time the company has allowed biometrics to be used to verify user identities on the web.
Google’s new password-less sign-in method is built on the FIDO2, W3C WebAuthn and FIDO CTAP standards that have been developed to help reduce our dependency on passwords. It’s the same technology that allows Android devices to be used as physical security keys.
The technology is secure and is essentially a two-factor authentication method that uses a Bluetooth-based protocol to set up a device-specific security key. This key can then be used for secondary verification without the need for a password.
For this type of login method to work, though, it’s essential that the handset has lock screen security enabled.
At the time of writing, it was unclear which Google services could be used with this new password-less login method, with the only example provided in the blog post currently being for the company’s online Password Manager.
However, Google has said that the new feature is currently being rolled out to Pixel phones first, and will arrive on devices running Android 7.0 Nougat or newer followin that, so it shouldn’t be long before it becomes easier to log into other Google services through Chrome on Android.