At WWDC14 Apple announced that it was opening up Touch ID to all developers. AgileBits, developer popular password vault 1Password, has demonstrated several promising new applications of the biometric fingerprint sensor built into the home button on the iPhone 5s.
- unlock the 1Password app (replacing the master password)
- enter passwords in Safari (via the 1Password browser extension), and
- enter login credentials into third-party iOS apps (via the 1Password app extension)
Make no mistake about it, this is revolutionary. These three features alone make Touch ID a viable and powerful security technology, a generation ahead of the anemic unlock code and App Store purchases that Touch ID is limited to today.
Some caveats: the new wizardry requires an iPhone 5s (the only iOS device with Touch ID, currently), iOS 8 (currently only available to developers), the 1Password beta for iOS (the beta program is full) and a bit of courage. After I saw the video above, I immediately backed up my jive and installed iOS 8 beta 5 on my iPhone 5s. I had to have it because I use 1Password at least 10 times per day.
Having a unique password for everything is important and there's no easy way to use an iPhone securely without constantly having to launch 1Password to look up your logins. Sure, you can save website passwords in iCloud Keychain, but it only works with Safari and it doesn't work with app logins.
For me, iOS 7's automatic app updates are the primary culprit. My apps update themselves all the time and log me out in the process necessitating a trip to 1Password to find my login information. In fact, if you're not constantly looking up app logins in a password manager you either, a) have a great memory, or b) you're using the same password(s) to log into all of your apps. Which is why the three new Touch ID features in the new 1Password beta are so powerful.
AgileBits developers and fearless leader Dave Teare deserve major kudos for hitting this one out of the park. It's amazing. Being able to unlock 1Password, enter passwords in Safari and in third-party apps with your finger (thanks to Touch ID) is a revolution for personal security. And to wrap it all up with a giant bow, AgileBits has published their 1Password App Extension code on Github so that any developer can add it to their app. Developers, please take advantage of this trail that AgileBits has blazed and implement the 1Password App Extension into your apps. This is a major feature that will be the standard by which all iOS 8 apps will be judged, especially when all new iOS devices ship with Touch ID.
Here's the video of it in action:
If you'd like to see a live demo of the future of password security I'll be demoing the new 1Password beta for iOS at the Atlantic City Macintosh User Group (ACAMUG) tonight, Friday, August 8, 2014 at 7:00 p.m., in Linwood, NJ. I hope to see you there.