Apple, Microsoft, Google agree to work together on FIDO passwordless sign-in system

Apple, Google and Microsoft Commit to Expanded Support for FIDO Standard to Accelerate Availability of Passwordless Sign-Ins.
Photo credit: Getty Images

We could soon be able to use online services across multiple devices and browsers without having to log in every single time with a different, often complicated password, thanks to a new innovation.

Three of the world's biggest tech companies - Apple, Microsoft and Google - have agreed to work with each other to enable passwordless sign-ins across their platforms.

The tech trio are working with the FIDO Alliance (AKA fast identity online) on a new universal passwordless sign-in 'passkey' standard that should make things faster, more convenient and safer for internet users.

The FIDO Alliance's passkey system should allow you to sign into all devices using the same cloud service and let you login to your Windows PC with your iPhone, or vice versa. That initial sign-in will be done in the same way people unlock their devices currently, such as with a fingerprint, face scan or PIN number.

It's planned that in the future, once you're logged in on one device, you'll be able to automatically access your passkey on several devices without having to re-enroll on each piece of hardware.

"Password-only authentication is one of the biggest security problems on the web, and managing so many passwords is cumbersome for consumers, which often leads consumers to reuse the same ones across services," said the FIDO Alliance.

"This practice can lead to costly account takeovers, data breaches, and even stolen identities. While password managers and legacy forms of two-factor authentication offer incremental improvements, there has been industry-wide collaboration to create sign-in technology that is more convenient and more secure. 

"This new approach protects against phishing and sign-in will be radically more secure when compared to passwords and legacy multi-factor technologies such as one-time passcodes sent over SMS."

The new FIDO features are expected to become available across Apple, Google and Microsoft platforms over the next year.

How the FIDO passkey system will work.
Photo credit: The FIDO Alliance

"The complete shift to a passwordless world will begin with consumers making it a natural part of their lives. Any viable solution must be safer, easier, and faster than the passwords and legacy multi-factor authentication methods used today," said Alex Simons, corporate vice president of identity program management at Microsoft.

"By working together as a community across platforms, we can at last achieve this vision and make significant progress toward eliminating passwords."

"Working with the industry to establish new, more secure sign-in methods that offer better protection and eliminate the vulnerabilities of passwords is central to our commitment to building products that offer maximum security and a transparent user experience," said Kurt Knight, Apple's senior director of platform product marketing.

"We look forward to making FIDO-based technology available across Chrome, ChromeOS, Android and other platforms, and encourage app and website developers to adopt it, so people around the world can safely move away from the risk and hassle of passwords," said Mark Risher, the senior director of product management at Google.