Gadgets & apps

This article was published on May 6, 2022

Fuck yeah, passwordless logins! Google, Apple, and Microsoft team up to make our lives easier

FIDO Alliance's passkey protocol will allow cross-platform passwordless logins


Fuck yeah, passwordless logins! Google, Apple, and Microsoft team up to make our lives easier Image by: Marco Verch Professional/Flickr
Ivan Mehta
Story by

Ivan Mehta

Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."

The FIDO Alliance has been at the forefront of the passwordless movement. The organization has been working with many tech firms for years to urge them to adopt standards that don’t require passwords for authentication.

Well, the people at the FIDO Alliance must be jumping for joy. In a new announcement, Google, Microsoft, and Apple have agreed to play nice with each other to enable passwordless sign-ins across their platforms.

In March, the FIDO Alliance released a white paper that introduced the passkey concept that enables cross-platform and multi-device passwordless sign-ins. The new announcement ensures that major operating systems support these features.

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Currently, Apple and Microsoft have some ability to enable authentication without passwords within their own ecosystems. On the other hand, Google uses some FIDO protocols to enable two-factor authentication.

There are two major problems with the system that’s in place: you can’t sign into websites and services using cross-platform devices, and if you lose access to your device (like your phone), you need to register again.

New user experiences with multi-device FIDO credentials.
New user experiences with multi-device FIDO credentials.

The passkey concept solves both these issues. It lets you sign in to all devices using the same cloud service, and allows you to login to your Windows PC with your iPhone.

Google, Microsoft, and Apple have all committed to implementing the passkey standard on their platforms.

However, technical details of how it’ll exactly work remain in the concept phase. The whitepaper has proposed solutions like Bluetooth as a possible gateway for phone-based authentication.

Felix Magedanz — founder, and CEO of authentication service provider Hanko.io — suggested in a blog that passkey also has provisions for forgetting usernames.

Essentially, when you go to a website, you’ll just have to click a button, and authenticate using your touch ID to sign in. You can see what it looks like in the illustration below.

Passkey authentication
Passkey standard will allow you to even forget your username. Credit: Hanko.io

We’ve asked FIDO to provide more details on how it’s working with different companies to make cross-platform passwordless logins a reality, and we’ll update the story if we hear back.

The FIDO Alliance is speaking at a conference in June, and we’ll hopefully get to know more about how this whole project will pan out.

But I think we can all agree that if the organization manages to get this project over the line, our online lives will become much easier.

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