What are Apple Passkeys and how will they replace passwords?
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(Pocket-lint) – While showing off Safari browser updates at WWDC in June 2022, Apple announced a new security feature – or credential – it’s working on, called Passkeys, and which aims to work on all platforms. Apple said it is working with developers, the FIDO alliance and industry partners such as Microsoft and Google to create a passwordless future – and Passkeys is key to that vision. Here’s everything you need to know about this new ID, including how it could replace passwords for good.
What are Apple Passkeys and how can they replace passwords?
During its WWDC 2022 keynote, Apple said it had “helped create a next-generation ID card that’s more secure, easier to use, and aims to replace passwords.”
Passkeys are a type of credential that uses “cryptographic techniques”. It essentially exploits the biometric functions integrated into your Apple devices – such as Touch ID or Face ID – to ensure the security of your online accounts. In a demo, Apple showed how you can quickly create and use a passkey with Touch ID or Face ID on your Apple device. When using an app or website that supports Apple Keys, you will be able to create an account and sign in to those services using only your fingerprint or face. All you have to do is authenticate yourself, and you’ll be done.
During its demonstration of the passwordless technology, Apple showed how Passkeys are saved in iCloud Keychain and work on Mac, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV with end-to-end encryption. You can even sign in to websites and apps on non-Apple devices using an iPhone or iPad. All you have to do is scan a QR code and Touch ID or Face ID to authenticate.
How do Apple Passkeys work and are they really secure?
According to Apple, when users create a Passkey, a unique digital key is created that only works for the site it was created for. Passkeys are based on the Web Authentication API (WebAuthn).
It is a standard that uses public key cryptography instead of passwords to authenticate users to websites and applications. The keys are stored on the device rather than on a web server. It is also a password replacement that uses Touch ID or Face ID for biometric verification. So, rather than entering a long password, you will be asked to authenticate via Touch ID or Face ID.
Accordingly, the company said that a password cannot be phished because it never leaves your Apple devices. Hackers also can’t trick you into sharing a password on a fake website, and passwords can’t be leaked because nothing is kept on a web server. Passkeys work in apps and are securely synced between Apple devices using iCloud Keychain.
Which devices will support Apple Passkeys – is it only Apple?
You can use Passkeys to sign in to apps and websites from your Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and even non-Apple devices.
- On your Mac, you can sign in with a key using your Touch ID or Face ID.
- On your iPhone, you can sign in with a password using your Touch ID or Face ID.
- On your iPad, you can sign in with a passkey using your Touch ID or Face ID.
- On your Apple TV and non-Apple devices, you can log in with a passkey using your iPhone or iPad! Apple said you can sign in to an app or website by scanning a QR code and then authenticating with Touch ID or Face ID.
Remember that in May 2022, Google and Microsoft announced that they were partnering with Apple to expand support for passwordless logins across mobile, desktop, and browsers. The three companies said they aim to support the new passwordless authentication standard – established by the FIDO Alliance and the World Wide Web Consortium – within the next year.
When will Apple Passkeys be available to start using?
The Passkeys were announced during a Safari demo as part of the announcement of macOS Ventura, a major update to the Mac operating system. This update will be available in beta this summer and will be followed by a public rollout later this year. At that time, Passkeys will likely be available for Mac users. iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 will likely bring Passkeys to iPhone and iPad. These upcoming software updates are also expected to be beta this summer, with final versions expected to be available to consumers in fall 2022.
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Written by Maggie Tillman.