Google's Smart Lock password manager automatically signs you into apps

google smart lock
Credit: Google Developers

Google opened another front in its war on passwords. The company launched the Google Identity Platform at its I/O developer conference, a tool to sync and store online passwords across Chrome and Android. 

The promise is that when you save a password into a site like Netflix or The New York Times, Google will be able to log in automatically when you download that app to your phone. It’s an extension of previous “Smart Lock” efforts that enable you to securely sign in to various Google devices and services without entering a password.

android smart lock Google Developers

Any passwords saved in Chrome will securly transfer over to that same app on your Android device.

The impact on you: The good news is this capability is built into Google Play Services 7.5, which is rolling out now. This app powers many key APIs and backend services for nearly all Android devices. This means you won’t have to wait for Android M, which won’t even be available until the third quarter of this year (and potentially much later for your device).

Google wants to be your password manager

This is only the newest battle in Google’s open war on passwords. For example, Chromebooks use a smart lock feature that lets you sign in with your Android phone. Google has long offered alternatives to a PIN for unlocking your Android device, such as facial recognition and swiping a pattern. Developers can also enable a “Sign in with Google” button in their apps, which securely connects with your Google account.

When it comes to password management, the difference between Google’s Smart Lock and tools like LastPass, Dashlane, and other third-party solutions is developers will need to enable this capability with their apps. This will take some time, so don’t ditch your password manager just yet. And of course, it only works on Android and in Chrome.

There are several major players already on board, according to Google, such as The New York Times, Netflix, Eventbrite, Orbitz, and Instacart. But the rest of the developer community is only now getting access to this tool. So while the new identity platform looks like a great feature and step forward for security, don’t uninstall your password manager just yet.

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