Google is helping to kill the password on half of all Android devices

A new update to Google Play Services will make it less necessary for around half of all Android users to manually type passwords for a number of apps and websites.

The addition of the FIDO2 security protocol enables users running Android 7.0 and up to use a fingerprint or pin code to access complaint accounts. Google has been a long-time member of the FIDO Alliance and has been working to bring FIDO2 compatibility to the Chrome web browser in recent years.

The addition on Android will be a massive boost to users of the company’s mobile devices, who can be less reliant on remembering long, varied passwords every time they wish to log into an app or service.

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Google says the new system will ensure that the data is authenticated on the device itself, rather than sharing the information directly with the developers of the apps and websites in question.

Christiaan Brand, an identity and security product manager at Google, says (via The Verge): “The important, often overlooked, part of this technology is actually not allow users to use biometrics to sign in, but rather moving authentication from a ‘shared secret’ model – in which both you and the service you’re interacting with needs to know some ‘secret’ like your password – to an ‘asymmetric’ model where you only need to prove that you know a secret, but the remote service doesn’t actually get to know the secret itself.

“This is better in many ways, as a breach of your data on the server side doesn’t actually reveal anything that can compromise the keys you use to access the service.”

From here it’ll be up to app and web developers to update their products in order to support the FIDO2 standard. To do that, they’ll need to adopt FIDO’s API. Unfortunately, according to the Android developers dashboard, around half of all Android users are still running on a version below Android 7.0.

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