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Google brings fingerprint authentication to Google websites on Android

13 August 2019

"An important benefit of using FIDO2 versus interacting with the native fingerprint APIs on Android is that these biometric capabilities are now, for the first time, available on the web, allowing the same credentials be used by both native apps and web services". In its place, users will only need to use their fingerprint to validate access to said services.

Starting with Pixel devices, the new feature will allow you to login to something like Gmail on the web, or other Google services like YouTube online using your phone's fingerprint scanner or screen lock. It's still secure, there's an implied lineage of authentication history (associated devices are "Bootstrapped" as Google calls it), it's just a whole lot more convenient than typing your password. Users will now be able verify their identity through the screen unlock function via their Android devices.

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Passwords can't go away fast enough, and if you're the family tech support guy or gal I'm sure you'd agree.

This change is part of Google's strategy to reduce reliance on passwords and shift to more secure two-factor authentication methods.

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If you have a compatible Android handset, then you can try the functionality out now by heading over to passwords.google.com using the Chrome app on your phone. Your fingerprint or screen unlock system authenticates you on-device and then simply communicates with Google's servers with an "authentic" or "not authentic", which means Google never sees your fingerprint, password, etc.

There's nothing extra for you to set up: if you have a Google account attached to your Android phone this will work for you. All Android devices running version 7.0 or later are FIDO2-certified, and Google lets you use an Android phone as a 2FA security key to log in to your account using the same technology.

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Google brings fingerprint authentication to Google websites on Android