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Google Authenticator Gets Major Upgrade with Account Sync

Posted April 24, 2023 | 2FA | Android | Cloud | Google | Google Authenticator | iOS | Mobile | two-factor authentication | Windows

Google has finally addressed one of the major issues with its Authenticator app on Android and iPhone, and it’s given the app a new icon too.

“We are excited to announce an update to Google Authenticator, across both iOS and Android, which adds the ability to safely backup your one-time codes (also known as one-time passwords or OTPs) to your Google Account,” Google’s Christiaan Brand announced. “Across all of your online accounts, signing in is the front door to your personal information. It’s also the primary entry point for risks, making it important to protect.”

Google released Google Authenticator in 2010 to address the need for two-factor authentication (2FA), which provides additional security when you sign into a compatible online account. But it’s never had one crucial bit of functionality, the ability to sync one-time password codes. This meant that every instance of Google Authenticator was a standalone solution, and if a user lost their phone, it could be difficult to get into accounts they were protecting with that app.

Now, OTPs will be stored in users’ Google accounts if desired—you can configure this feature as you prefer—so that you can bring up Google Authenticator on any device and access the same codes.

“In addition to one-time codes from Authenticator, Google has long been driving multiple options for secure authentication across the web,” Brand adds. “Google Password Manager securely saves your passwords and helps you sign in faster with Android and Chrome, while Sign in with Google allows users to sign in to a site or app using their Google Account. We’ve also been working with our industry partners and the FIDO Alliance to bring even more convenient and secure authentication offerings to users in the form of passkeys.” Google is also working on a passwordless future, though it’s behind Microsoft in that regard.

On that note, I use Microsoft Authenticator (which supports cloud backups) for 2FA, but I’ll take a look at the Google Authenticator update this week. (I’m not seeing the new version yet.)

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