Google, Apple Aim To Kill Passwords

Apple, Yahoo, and Google are making inroads into enabling smartphones to become a replacement for entering passwords -- a move that may not come soon enough for some users and help desks.

Dawn Kawamoto, Associate Editor, Dark Reading

February 9, 2016

3 Min Read
<p align="left">(Image: Greyfebruary/iStockphoto)</p>

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In a move to shore up security and reduce the number of times users have to reset their passwords, Apple, Yahoo, and Alphabet are among the tech companies developing ways for users to enable smartphones to replace the need for entering passwords.

This effort to replace the less than secure practice of using passwords has been in the works for years, but more recently tech titans are stepping up to move the effort forward.

Unfortunately, some of those efforts have been less than smooth. Apple is relying on its Touch ID feature on its newer iPhones and iPads to serve as a secure biometric method to access the device, without the need for a password. But users as recently as last week complained that if they have third-party hardware installed on the device, their iPhone or iPad is rendered useless when Apple's iOS software does a security check and cannot match the Touch ID sensor with other components in the device.

Meanwhile, iOS developers are developing apps to work with Apple's Touch ID feature to allow users to sidestep the use of passwords, notes a Wall Street Journal report.     

Alphabet's Google in December acknowledged it's testing a new way for Android users to log into their Google services by responding to an alert sent to their smartphone rather than punching in a password. The service being tested is called "Sign in with your phone" and Google is exploring expanding its sans password approach by enabling users' Android phones to also recognize speech, typing, and other behaviors as a means to replace passwords, according to the Journal.

And in October, Yahoo launched Account Key, which is similar to Google's efforts in that it sends a notification to a user's smartphone, which requires users to confirm an attempt to log into an account before access is granted, TechCrunch reported.

Microsoft also has something in the works but it goes beyond incorporating the use of a smartphone to replace passwords. The Redmond giant has developed a biometrics security feature called Windows Hello into its Windows 10 operating system.

[Read Worst Passwords Of 2015 Reveal Our Stupidity.]

However, as much as users complain about having to remember a zillion passwords, the adoption rate of password-free options has been mixed. Yahoo in October found only 3% to 4% of its users relied on its on demand password services, according to TechCrunch. But Apple has seen greater success with 90% of iPhone users taking advantage of either a password or Touch ID to lock their device, up from roughly 50% two years ago, according to the Journal.

Nonetheless, tech companies are moving forward in their effort to create a password-free lifestyle of users.

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About the Author(s)

Dawn Kawamoto

Associate Editor, Dark Reading

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's,, AOL's DailyFinance, and The Motley Fool. More recently, she served as associate editor for technology careers site

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