When you check the security settings of your Google account, you will now find a new section marked “Passkeys.” That’s because the tech giant has started rolling out support for the new authentication technology, which offers a passwordless experience across its services. I’m already seeing the option in my accounts, and activating it for my phone and laptop was almost a one-click experience.
The technology uses your device biometrics — your fingerprint or your face — or its pin to confirm that it’s you logging in. However, it’s completely different from using your biometrics to auto-populate username and password boxes. Creating a passkey for your account generates a pair of cryptographic keys, one private and one public. The private key stays on your device, and it’s what Google will use to verify your identity with the public key uploaded to its servers. Passkeys are considered more secure than current login technologies, since private keys only stay on the device where they’re created and can’t be stolen if a hacker breaks into Google’s servers. The fact that you don’t have to use a password to sign in means the technology can also protect you from phishing attempts.
Google has been championing the use of passwordless logins and had added passkey support for Chrome and Android last year. That said, it will not be removing the option to sign in using passwords — or to activate two-factor authentication — which will be especially helpful if you have a device that doesn’t support the newer technology yet. If you log into your account on multiple devices, you can create a passkey for each one of them, unless you have access to a service that backs up or syncs passkeys. A passkey you create on an iPhone, for instance, will sync with devices that use the same iCloud account, so it can also be available on an iPad or a MacBook.
You can also use a passkey stored on your current phone to sign into a new device. Just choose “use a passkey from another device” and click through, after which Google will ask if you want to create a separate passkey for that device.
In the blog post written by the Google Account Security and Safety teams, they said:
“Today’s launch is a big step in a cross-industry effort that we started more than 10 years ago and we are committed to passkeys as the future of secure sign-in, for everyone. We hope that other web and app developers adopt passkeys as well and are able to use our deployment as a model.”