Google is stepping up its Project Abacus, which will make Android apps password free by the end of 2016. Under the project, the company intends to allow users to automatically login, by analysing how they use their phones. Google recently announced at its I/O developer conference that Project Abacus is slated to begin trial with "several large financial institutions" in June.
The tech giant introduced Project Abacus at its 2015 I/O conference, where it explained the concept for the project and that it was inspired by the inability of most people to remember passwords. However, it proposed analysing they way people use their phones, including they manner in which they speak, type, as well as their location to identify the authenticity of a user. The company said that this would be more efficient instead of asking users to type in passwords, which are easy to forget.
Google Advanced Technologies Projects (Atap) head Dan Kaufman said, "Assuming it goes well, this should go out to every Android developer by the end of the year." Project Abacus involves analysing patterns of phone usage and then calculate the probability, called "Trust Score" of the authenticity of a user's identity.
The tech giant hopes to develop and roll out a "Trust Score API" to developers by the end of 2016, which will then be tested to determine the effectiveness and security of the password-free login concept.
Security experts have strived to introduce more secure password and verification systems to ensure users' privacy and data remain safe. Currently, most tech firms and even financial institutions incorporate the two-factor authentication method, which involves requesting users to input their login details as well as inputting an additional code or a unique PIN, which is sent to users via email or an SMS on their phones. But Google's Trust Score will involve determining users' identity by relying on their behaviour, which also includes facial recognition, typing patterns and speed, location and more.
Google's Smart Lock already uses a similar method, like facial recognition, to allow users to automatically unlock Android devices when in a trusted location, with Bluetooth access and in possession of the device. However, with Project Abacus users' data will be continuously collected to power its Trust Score. While the idea of not having to remember passwords may seem relieving to many, the possibility to Google having unhindered and unlimited access to various aspects of a user's daily life and behavioural characteristics can be daunting.
Project Abacus has already been tested in 33 universities across 28 states in the US and will trials will soon begin with several major financial institutions as well.