New passkey feature could replace passwords in Apple devices


When registering on a website or app, Apple is adding a new feature called “Passkeys” that will be available in iOS 16, iPadOS 16, tvOS 16, and macOS Ventura. This feature will replace the use of traditional passwords. Users are protected from phishing, malware, and any other assaults intended to get access to their accounts by using passkeys, which are more secure than passwords.

Apple claims that Passkeys are the next generation of credentials since they are safer and simpler to use compared to traditional passwords. Passkeys are built on the WebAuthn standard and make use of a one-of-a-kind cryptographic key pair for each website or account, as Apple describes in a support page pertaining to the functionality that the company offers.

The public key is saved on the website server, while the private key is kept on the user’s device. In order to allow the passkey for the website to authenticate the user, Face ID or Touch ID can be used on the iPhone and other devices with biometric authentication. Because the second key is private and accessible only to the user, it cannot be stolen, leaked, or phished. This ensures that the user’s account remains safe.

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iCloud Keychain is used to store passwords, and two-factor authentication is required to access them. iCloud Keychain, which is end-to-end secured with its own cryptographic keys, syncs all of a user’s passwords across all of their devices.

The syncing of passkeys across accounts provides redundancy in the event that an Apple device is lost. Nevertheless, should all of a person’s Apple devices become lost along with the passkeys, Apple has built a capability in iCloud keychain escrow to recover passkey information. Users have the option of either going through a multi-step authentication process or setting up an account recovery contact in order to get an iCloud Keychain that contains passkeys.

Passkeys may appear hard on paper, but in practice they will be as straightforward as using Touch ID or Face ID to create a passkey for a login.

As part of the FIDO Alliance, Apple has been working with members such as Google and Microsoft to ensure that passkeys can also be used on non-Apple devices as well as across other platforms. Passkeys will use QR codes to authenticate with the iPhone on non-Apple devices, but this will require support from other firms, so it’s a standard that needs to be adopted throughout the IT industry.

Apple has not provided any information regarding what would take place with passkeys if a user switched from Apple to another platform such as Android. As a result, there is uncertainty regarding what would take place in this scenario.

 Apple claims that the process of moving away from the use of passwords will take some time, but the company plans to collaborate with software developers in order to build a future without the need for passwords.

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