Apple, Google and Microsoft team up to kill off passwords

A man logs in to something on his computer screen.
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Update: 1Password joining Apple, Google and Microsoft in embracing passkeys — what it means for you.

Logging into apps and services on your Apple, Google and Microsoft-powered devices could be much easier in the near future, thanks to a new joint security standard that claims it's going to make passwords obsolete.

The three tech giants, through a combined press release, have promised to expand their support for the FIDO passwordless sign-in standard "over the course of the coming year." FIDO, promoted by FIDO Alliance and the World Wide Web Consortium, is designed to be a simpler — but still secure — option for logging into your websites and apps, while going one step further than the best password managers can currently manage.

The announcement acknowledges the common problem with passwords: you need a lot of them, and are therefore tempted to reuse some, which then reduces your online security in the event any of those accounts get breached. The FIDO standard instead takes care of making unique passkeys, leaving you only with the job of providing a PIN, security key or biometric identifier to log in.

So far, that sounds similar to password managers or the two-factor authentication (2FA) methods many of us are already using. However, the FIDO Alliance asserts that its standard is more secure, plus there are two additional benefits that will be coming with Apple, Google and Microsoft's support.

The first is being able to access passwordless log-in on new devices without having to sign in the first time, making the set-up process much simpler. The second is that you will be able to use a passkey from your mobile device to sign into an account on another device, no matter which software or operating system those two devices are using. You can already do this in some circumstances, depending on what you're logging into, but being able to do this on any device you own for any app or site you use would be a huge advantage over the current process.

The FIDO Alliance couldn't ask for better partners in rolling out this technology worldwide. The three biggest tech companies are near enough the entire mobile and desktop computing device market, so if they support it, every big app and website will have little choice but to adopt the standard too.

The timeline of "the coming year" is a bit vague, so perhaps wait for further announcements from the companies themselves before questioning where your FIDO-powered Apple or Google logins are. Perhaps we'll hear more at upcoming events such as Apple's WWDC 2022 or Google I/O 2022, where new password tech would be well within the realm of the software and platform updates expected to be discussed.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.