Apple’s upcoming iOS 15 and macOS Monterey will preview a new feature called “Passkeys in iCloud Keychain,” which is an attempt to replace passwords with a more secure login process. Instead of logging into an app or website with a text string, a WWDC presentation showed how to use Face ID, Touch ID, or a. can use Security key, Get access. The passkeys will then be synced with iCloud on your Apple devices.
While passwords are the most popular method of securing accounts right now, they are plagued by many problems. Passwords can be phishing, forgotten, and insecure if not used correctly (remember how many times you’ve been tempted to reuse one across multiple accounts). However, Apple believes its new Passkeys solution can solve these problems, as the comparison table below shows.
In a demonstration, Apple showed how the new feature could eliminate the need to even create a password to log into an app or website. Instead of creating a username and password during the login process as usual, Apple authentication expert Garrett Davidson simply enters a username and allows the app to register his Face ID as a passkey. He then showed how he can log into the app with Face ID in the future or even log into his account via the service’s website. It also works on Macs with Touch ID.
The functionality is based on the WebAuthn standard, for which Apple, Google, Microsoft and others have slowly added support over time. Last year Apple Added support for passwordless logins in Safari in iOS and macOS. However, the new approach goes deeper by integrating WebAuthn into an app’s login process and syncing your login information across all Apple devices via iCloud.
Behind the scenes, WebAuthn uses public key cryptography so you can sign in without ever leaving your device with your private credentials. Instead, your phone or computer just sends a “signature” that proves your identity without having to share your secret private key.
Apple admits that the feature is still in its early stages. It will only be previewed this year and is disabled by default in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey. Developers can enable it, but it is not intended for widespread use. There is also the obvious limitation that the feature relies on iCloud so you will be out of luck if you have to log into the same service on a Windows or Android device. However, Apple admits that this is an issue, which suggests it may be working on improving cross-platform support in the future. Apps and websites must also enable support for the new process.
But the move is yet another sign of the growing momentum behind the omission of passwords. Microsoft has announced plans Make Windows 10 passwordless, and Google has been working to make this possible Log into his services without passwords.