Apple has started its journey into a post-password future

Move Beyond Passwords Wwdc21 Session
Move Beyond Passwords Wwdc21 Session (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple hosted its "Move beyond passwords" WWDC21 session.
  • The session showed developers a preview of what a future without passwords will look like.

Apple has previewed a future without passwords at its "Move beyond passwords" session during WWDC21. The new feature, called "passkeys in iCloud Keychain," will use the Web Authentication standard to eventually replace passwords with more secure methods of authentication.

Despite their prevalence, passwords inherently come with challenges that make them poorly suited to securing someone's online accounts. Learn more about the challenges passwords pose to modern security and how to move beyond them. Explore the next frontier in account security with secure-by-design, public-key-based credentials that use the Web Authentication standard. Discover in this technology preview how Apple is approaching this standard in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey.

Garrett Davidson, an Apple engineer on the Authentication Experience team, says that the new feature will not only be much more secure than passwords but allow you to authenticate with something as simple as a tap or click.

This new feature stores a new type of credential, called a "passkey", in your iCloud Keychain. Passkeys are WebAuthn credentials with the amazing security that the standard provides combined with the usability of being backed up, synced, and working on all of your devices. We're storing them in iCloud Keychain. Just like everything else in your iCloud Keychain, they're end-to-end encrypted, so not even Apple can read them. Your secrets are your secrets. And they're very easy to use. In most cases, it just takes a single tap or click to sign in. And they're stronger than most password-plus-second-factor solutions out there today, thanks to the combined security of WebAuthn and iCloud Keychain. And because it's just a single tap to sign in, it's simultaneously easier, faster, and more secure than almost all common forms of authentication today. Let's add it to that chart. As I just said, it's super easy to use; usually just one tap, or click, to sign in. What we're releasing as part of macOS Monterey and iOS 15 works on all of your Apple devices. Of course, to replace passwords for everyone, this technology needs to work on all of your devices, including those that don't support iCloud Keychain. That functionality is not present in macOS Monterey and iOS 15.

The feature is currently only available for developers to test out and submit feedback to Apple as it continues its work to bring a post-password future into reality. Moving away from passwords, as Apple has explained, will be a multi-year project. You can watch the entire session or read the transcript on the Apple Developer website.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.