Google plans to eliminate passwords from Android
Published 25/05/2016 | 08:55
Google plans to get rid of passwords on Android apps by the end of 2016. Instead, they will unlock based on who is using them and where.
Known as Project Abacus, this new security system would use biometrics - unique signatures like your typing pattern, your face and your location - to figure out whether it's really you, rather than relying on a password.
The biometrics security system relies on a "Trust Score." Your Android phone is constantly collecting background data on your typing habits and locations so it forms a signature of who you are over time. Using this data, it gives you a score of whether it trusts you or not.
The Trust Score threshold for unlocking an app would depend on how sensitive the information was - so a banking app might have a higher threshold Trust Score than a social media one, say.
According to Daniel Kaufman, the head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects research department, Google will provide app designers with a Trust Score API that can integrated into any app. Banks will be testing the API starting next month, he said.
The search giant has already been experimenting with nascent biometric unlocking systems. For instance, the "Smart Lock" feature means you can unlock your Android phone in a preset trusted location, without a password. You can also set up a trusted voice and a trusted device.
“Assuming it goes well, this should become available to every Android developer around the world by the end of the year,” Kaufman said at the annual Google I/O event earlier this month.
In February this year, HSBC and First Direct rolled out fingerprint and voice recognition systems to authenticate almost 15m online accounts.
Joe Gordon, HSBC's head of customer contact, said: "This gets rid of the much-maligned passwords to replace them with something more secure - you don't have to remember where you lived when you were five, or your inside leg measurement."
Smart wallets such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay have also started to let consumers pay for items using the fingerprint scanner.