Google wants to replace your password with your smartphone

chrome android data saver news google app os
bloomua/123rf
A fair argument could be made that passwords are more of a hassle than they’re worth. They’re a pain to juggle, recall, and enter, and in most cases aren’t even secure enough to protect from the most common forms of malicious cracking — according to a survey by cybersecurity firm TeleSign, 21 percent of people use passwords that are 10 years old and 73 percent use duplicated passwords. That’s why companies from Twitter to Microsoft, with the approval of the White House, have launched ambitious plans to “kill the password” in recent years, and one reason why Google’s eschewing passwords entirely: according to a Reddit user, the Internet monolith is testing a password-free login system that relies on a smartphone for authentication.

In a thread on Reddit, rp1225 reported receiving an e-mail invitation to test a new Google login method: smartphone-based sign in. Instead of relying on a pass phrase or two-factor authentication to secure your account, the new system leverages your smartphone’s location data and security settings.

Here’s how it appears to work: after formally enrolling in the program, accepting an invitation for a private Google Group, selecting a compatible phone, and enabling a form of screen lock on said phone, logging in to your Google account would no longer require a password. Instead, a prompt would appear on your smartphone when you sign in on the Web.

The program’s very much a work in progress, an FAQ included in the invitation notes. Depending on the circumstances, enrolled users “may be asked to complete an extra step or two,” and password-based login isn’t disabled entirely; you can still use your old pass code in case your phone’s dead, lost, or missing. There’s a mechanism for enrolling a new phone, too (although the criteria for “compatible” phones isn’t exactly clear), and a way to opt-out of the new login system altogether.

google-login-thing

The new system’s the latest of Google’s attempts to reduce reliance on passwords. In Android 5.1, the firm introduced On-Body detection, a system that measures your smartphone’s sensors to automatically bypass the lockscreen in certain scenarios. It joined the FIDO Alliance to develop password-free standards. And in 2013, Google’s security team experimented with a Yubico cryptographic card that, when slid into a USB reader, could automatically log into an associated Google account.

And Google has some even wackier ideas. In a paper published in the engineering journal IEEE Security & Privacy Magazine, Eric Grosse, Google’s vice president of security, and engineer Mayank Upadhyay envision a “smartphone” or “smartcard-embedded ring finger” that can authorize a computer via nothing more than a tap. That may not come to pass, but if there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that the password is doomed. Might as well give your current crop of pass codes (“password12345,” anyone?) an early retirement.

Mobile

Xiaomi Mi 9 will be one of the first phones with monster Snapdragon 855 chip

Xiaomi's next major smartphone release will be the Mi 9, and the company hasn't held back in giving us a good look at the phone, revealing the design, the camera, and a stunning color.
Gaming

How to keep a PS4 in your pocket with the PlayStation Mobile app

Sony built the PlayStation 4 with smartphone and mobile integration in mind. Take a look at our guide for connecting your smartphone or tablet to a PS4, so you can get the most out of the system while on the go.
Gaming

How do the revised Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles stack up?

Microsoft's new Xbox One S and Sony's PlayStation 4 "Slim" have bucked the generational gaming console trend. But which of these stopgap systems is worth spending your paycheck on?
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.
Mobile

Forgot your Android password or PIN? Here’s what you need to do

It’s a horrible feeling when you forget your Android password, PIN, or pattern and can’t access your smartphone. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to gain access to your device. Find out what your options are right here.
Wearables

Galaxy Watch Active isn't official yet, but you can see it in Samsung's own app

Samsung may be about to resurrect its Sport line of smartwatches under a new name: The Galaxy Watch Sport Active. Leaks and rumors are building our picture of the device at the moment.
Wearables

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…
Mobile

Stop buying old tablets, says Samsung, buy the new Galaxy Tab S5e instead

Samsung has launched the Galaxy Tab S5e -- the E is for Essential -- a reasonably priced tablet that includes many of the features we like from the Tab A 10.5, and the Tab S4. Here's what you need to know.
Mobile

Bag yourself a bargain with the best budget tablets under $200

The battle for your budget tablet affections is really ramping up. Which tablet, costing less than $200, should be commanding your attention? We take a look at some different options for the budget-conscious.
Computing

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.
Home Theater

Samsung accidentally leaks its new Galaxy Buds ahead of launch

It's been all but certain that Samsung would launch a successor to its Gear IconX wireless earbuds soon, but a newly leaked photo and recent FCC certification document seems to indicate that the debut is very close.
Home Theater

Hi-res streaming audio service Qobuz arrives in U.S., threatens Tidal’s monopoly

For several years, Tidal enjoyed a monopoly on hi-res music streaming in the U.S. Now, French company Qobuz is here to offer some competition with a variety of monthly plans starting at $10 a month.
Mobile

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.
Mobile

OnePlus 6T vs. Honor View 20: We compare the cameras in these ‘flagship killers’

For less than $600, you can buy either the OnePlus 6T or the Honor View 20, two extremely capable smartphones with plenty of exciting features. But which one has the best camera? We found out on a recent trip to France.