After announcing it password support came to Android and Chrome back in October, the new feature is now available in the latest version of Google’s browser (Chrome Stable M108).
The move is part of the search giant’s continued efforts to move away from passwords and toward passwordless authentication instead. However, Google is not alone in this endeavor and both Microsoft and Apple have also added password support to their respective operating systems. (If you’re an Apple user, this is how to set up passkeys on iPhone, iPad and Mac.)
However, before you replace all your passwords with passwords, it’s worth learning a little more about this new technology along with its pros and cons. This way you can decide if you want to ditch your passwords for good. But even without switching to passwords, you can still improve your password security by using one of the best password managers.
Access keys vs passwords
Even if you come up with a strong, complex password that uses a combination of upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and symbols, it can still be stolen by hackers – either directly through phishing or indirectly as a result of a data breach. Google has been working for years now to make passwords more secure through both 2-step verification and Google Password Manager.
Unlike a traditional password, passwords cannot be reused across accounts, stolen in phishing attacks, or leaked as a result of a data breach. They also work across different operating systems and browsers and can be used with both websites and apps.
Things to consider before setting up a password
To use passwords in Chrome, you must first enable encryption on your device on either Android or iOS. This encrypts the passwords on the smartphone before they are stored in Google Password Manager.
While you may be eager to try out passwords now that they’re supported in Chrome, enabling encryption on your device comes with several caveats. For example, once encryption on the device is configured, it cannot be removed. Some of the websites and apps you use regularly will also not be able to log you in automatically. You must also enter your Google password to unlock your passwords on each new device you use.
If these caveats aren’t a deal breaker, here’s how passkeys work in Chrome along with some tips to help you get started.
How to use passwords in Chrome
When on-device encryption is enabled in Chrome, you’ll be able to create new passwords and use them to sign in to any website or app that supports them. However, when you log in with a password, you must authenticate your account in the same way you would unlock your smartphone.
For those running the latest version of Chrome, password support is now enabled on Windows 11, macOS and Android. If you use one of the best android phonesyour passkeys will be securely synced through Google Password Manager, although Google plans to add support for all password managers that support passwords in future versions of Android.
To create a new passkey for one of your online accounts, you must verify your account information and then present your fingerprint or face when prompted. However, you can also use the PIN code you use to unlock your smartphone.
It is just as easy to log in with your new password. Just like with passwords, Google uses autofill for passwords. When you try to log in, a message appears asking if you want to use your password. After clicking “Continue”, you must use your fingerprint or PIN to log into your account.
Access keys wouldn’t be a good password replacement if they didn’t work on your computer, and luckily they can also be used to log into websites on your PC or Mac. In this scenario, a securely generated QR code appears in your browser, and you then need to use your smartphone to scan it. This allows you to use the password stored on the smartphone.
Another advantage of using passwords instead of passwords is that there is nothing to leak since a new QR code is generated every time you go to login.
How to manage your passwords in Chrome
With Chrome M108 running on your desktop or laptop, you can manage all your passwords from Google’s browser on either Windows or macOS. To do so, click the three-dot menu in the top right corner of Chrome and go to settings. In the “AutoFill” tab you can manage all your passwords.
Is this password really dead?
Unlike other emerging technologies, all the major tech giants have worked together to roll out password support to their respective operating systems and browsers. As such, it seems that passwords really have a shot at replacing passwords.
However, you probably won’t be able to use passwords for all of your accounts. For example, your Google account will still need its own unique password, and this will likely be the case for your Apple and Microsoft accounts as well. Nevertheless, passwords can be very useful when logging into third-party accounts, and this is especially true for your more sensitive accounts such as your bank account and other financial services.