Security has been a big selling point in Apple’s modern era. The company has invested heavily in integrating it into its platforms from the ground up, with innovations like Secure Enclave, to user-centric technology like Touch ID, Face ID, and iCloud Keychain.
But in the most recent beta versions of its operating systems, especially in iOS 15.4, Apple has rolled out new improvements that take into account not only security but also convenience. And they demonstrate that while the company continues to take the security of our devices and information to heart, it also realizes that these are systems that people need to interact with, often multiple times a day. .
Additionally, if you look into the future, you can also see quite clearly that Apple has further extensions of these technologies in mind, with the goal of continuing to make its products the most secure and more user-friendly on the market. Marlet.
What’s the password?
The existence of iCloud Keychain for the past few years (and macOS Keychain even before that) has made it much easier to create and manage secure passwords on a variety of sites and apps. But even with some significant upgrades to its iCloud Keychain system in iOS 15, such as the ability to store one-time verification codes, Apple’s built-in offering continues to lag behind the managers of standalone passwords like 1Password.
However, in the recently released iOS 15.4 beta, it’s clear that Apple is still trying to improve its system and make it more comparable to these other products. In this next release, Apple is adding the ability for users to add notes to password items. This is a great feature for those who use password managers to securely store things other than passwords – for example, I use Secure Notes in 1Password to keep track of backup recovery codes for accounts, as well as other secure information that doesn’t really fit the “password” pattern.
Apple doesn’t necessarily have to bankrupt 1Password or other password managers with iCloud Keychain, but it’s starting to look like these kinds of features are table stakes to keep its users safe. I’m looking forward to the addition of Secure Note, though I’d also like to see a simpler interface for looking up passwords in cases where apps or services don’t support iCloud Keychain (Terminal, e.g. example). Passwords deserves to be its own app or, at the very least, more accessible than it currently is, buried in iOS’s settings or a macOS preferences pane.
Your face is your password
Apple’s addition of various biometric authentication features has been widely praised, and with good reason. Touch ID and Face ID have become the most visible and arguably the most successful biometric authentication methods. And in iOS 15.4, the latter is about to get better than ever, because Face ID will now be able to unlock your device even if you’re wearing a face mask.
Two years into the pandemic, it’s a feature that has remained in high demand, although there has been some question as to whether it would be technologically possible. Earlier in the pandemic, Apple added a feature that lets you unlock your iPhone if you’re wearing an Apple Watch that’s already been authenticated, but the new mask-enabled Face ID can do things the method can’t. , such as unlock third-party apps and let you use features like Apple Pay.
These are welcome additions, especially for those of us who use longer, more complex passcodes (and that’s all of us, right?). But Face ID, which Apple says is even more secure than Touch ID, remains a no-show on the Mac, and given the convenience trade-offs for Touch ID and Face ID, it would still be nice to see an iPhone (and a iPad) which offers both options.
What is a password?
Meanwhile, Apple is heading into a world in which we may not all have to remember, or even care, long strings of mysterious numbers and letters for every website we visit. At last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple discussed adding a framework called Passkeys to iCloud Keychain that aims to do just that.
This feature is still a “technology preview” (meaning it’s not even classified as beta yet and probably won’t be widely used for several years) but iOS 15.4 also adds a new feature for the framework: the ability to use an existing password on an iPhone when logging into the same site on your paired Mac or iPad. In theory, this means that if you authenticated using Face ID or Touch ID on your phone, you can use that same ID to access the same service on another of your devices.
Ultimately, this technology will combine the benefits of iCloud Keychain with the ease of Touch ID and Face ID. Ultimately, it’s the eternal balance of security, and it’s a balance that Apple clearly continues to invest in. So while the company’s products remain the most secure on the market, they also continue to offer unparalleled convenience.
Dan has been writing about all things Apple since 2006, when he started contributing to the MacUser blog. He is a prolific podcaster and the author of the Galactic Cold War series, including his latest, The Nova Incidentcoming in July 2022.