Google moves forward with Android password-nixing Project Abacus
While it was fairly easy to overlook some of Google’s lower-key I/O 2016 announcements and demos of experimental technologies not yet ready for primetime during the actual jam-packed conference, now that the event is in the past we almost have to talk about things like Project Soli and Abacus.
Abacus, as some of you might recall, is the provisional name given to an Android security-modifying initiative that’s both captivating and controversial, getting its first public showing at last year’s I/O, and evolving greatly in the past 12 months.
In fact, this “project” is so close to its completion that app developers should be able to implement it across a number of services by the end of 2016, if they so choose. Abacus essentially aims to make traditional passwords and even advanced two-factor authentication obsolete, replacing the constant need for a mobile user to remember or store keys, digits and letters with complex biometric recognition.
It’s a tricky concept that requires near-perfect execution to garner the trust of the masses, which is why Google partnered with universities first and now large banks across the US to test its safety and reliability.
The way it’s supposed to work is by computing a so-called “Trust Score”, based on any user’s particular typing patterns, location, speed and voice standards, facial recognition, and whatever else the software deems necessary for identifying the person trying to unlock a phone, sign up to an online service, make a digital payment or Play Store purchase.
Project Abacus should be always awake, always aware and always tracking things to help it distinguish between a device’s rightful owner and a malicious hijacker. But is everyone willing to renounce the ease of use and understanding of conventional passwords? We’ll just have to wait and see.