How Apple Passkeys will eliminate passwords in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura

Kurt Night, Apple’s senior director of platform product marketing, and Darin Adler, the company’s vice president of internet technologies, recently spoke with Tom’s Guide where they talked about Passkeys and how they will replace passwords for good.

Apple launched Passkeys at WWDC 2021. However, the company is really offering Passkeys as a full-fledged alternative to passwords with its next set of operating systems, including iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura, this fall.

“Passwords are critical to protecting everything we do online today, from everything we share to all of our finances,” Night said. “But they are also one of the greatest attack vectors and security vulnerabilities facing users today.”

Passkeys use a process called public key cryptography to enable passwordless logins to apps and websites. With Passkeys, logins require a handshake between a public key stored somewhere on a web server and a private key, which is encrypted and stored locally on the user’s device. The handshake is authenticated by biometric verification via Touch ID or Face ID.

Passkeys are very effective against phishing attacks since the authentication is fully biometric on the user’s side and they don’t have to give any sensitive passwords. They also protect against data breaches because the public key stored on the web is worthless without its corresponding private key.

“People almost always have phones with them,” Adler said. “Face ID and Touch ID verification gives you the convenience and biometrics that we can get with an iPhone. You don’t need to buy another device, but you don’t even need to learn a new habit. »

Once a password is saved, iCloud Keychain syncs it to the user’s iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV with end-to-end encryption. If a user wants to sign in on an Apple device that isn’t their own, passkeys can be shared via AirDrop.

“iCloud Keychain has made this possible, and the security that was previously limited to people who would be willing to carry extra gear can be made available to everyone with the phone,” Adler said. “So I think those two things come together in a really special way.”

Passkeys also support cross-platform functionality. When you want to sign in on a non-Apple device with a passkey, the other device generates a QR code that your iPhone or iPad can read. Your Apple device will use Face ID or Touch ID to confirm it’s you trying to sign in, and you’ll be signed in on the other device.

“The cross-platform experience is super easy,” Night said. “So let’s say you’re someone who has an iPhone, but you want to log in on a Windows machine. You will be able to access a QR code which you will then only have to scan with your iPhone and can then use Face ID or Touch ID on your phone.

Apple is already working with developers to bring Passkey support to third-party apps, and there seems to be significant momentum for the adoption of the new feature.

“It’s not a future dream to replace passwords,” Night concluded. “It’s something that’s going to be a pathway to completely replacing passwords, and it’s starting now.”


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Steven L. Nielsen