Apple is working towards a future without a password with a new “keychain” feature for iCloud keychain that was previewed at WWDC 2021.
In a WWDC developer session called “Move beyond password”, Apple teased a new feature called “passkeys in iCloud keychain.” The feature is available for testing in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey, but is not yet ready for full release.
Essentially, passwords are pairs of private and public keys based on the WebAuthn standard. They basically act as a hardware security key, but are securely stored in the iCloud keychain.
This means that users do not need to carry hardware keys ̵
For users, passwords will offer a simple and secure alternative to passwords. Once implemented, all a user needs to do is authenticate with Face ID to log in. Passport codes in iCloud keychain can be used anywhere that supports WebAuthn. Currently, it includes browsers and apps on Apple’s platforms, but full use of the standard is still a few years off.
As mentioned earlier, the inclusion of passwords in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey is for developer testing only – it’s actually not a feature yet. Apple says testing the functionality of existing apps and workflows is just the first step in a “multi-year effort to replace passwords.”
Although users will not be able to use passwords immediately, Apple has a number of other security and privacy features in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey. It includes a new built-in authentication for two-factor logins, a private relay feature that encrypts web traffic and hides a user’s IP address, and a feature that allows users to create proxy email addresses.
Apple is not the only company looking to a future without a password. Google at its I / O conference in May detailed a number of new privacy and security features aimed at replacing passwords.
Follow the entire WWDC 2021 with comprehensive AppleInsider coverage of the week-long event from June 7 to June 11, including details on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, macOS Monterey and more.
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