You may well already use Google’s autofill feature, which remembers your passwords, addresses, credit cards, and other details, then puts them into forms for you on Android and inside Chrome. Now it looks as though the tool is getting a security boost.
As spotted by XDA Developers, Android code that’s not yet been enabled suggests biometric authentication will soon be added to the autofill feature, so you’ll need a fingerprint or a face unlock to use it.
At the moment, anyone who gets access to your Android phone or Chrome web browser can use the details held by autofill – they can log into sites, fill out forms with your information, and so on.
That’s why having some form of lock screen security is so important on a smartphone – because as far as autofill and most of your apps are concerned, once you get past that stage, you are who you say you are.
This extra biometric security layer, if indeed it does become official, will bring Google’s autofill more into line with third-party password managers: most of these apps require a fingerprint or face unlock before they’ll release your details.
Based on the early code it looks as though biometrics will be able to be used for both payment info and login credentials, with toggle switches for each. The settings can be found under Languages & input in the System menu in Android settings.
Presumably if the feature does roll out, it’ll support the latest Face Unlock technology that Google has implemented on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, both of which let you skip the lock screen using facial recognition.
This code isn’t proof that the autofill security upgrade is on the way, but it certainly makes sense for Google to implement it. We might hear more about it – and about Android 11 – at the Google IO developer conference in May.