Multi-factor authentication is an important part of keeping your online accounts secure, but the process is notoriously cumbersome. Text messages, code generators, and the like significantly slow down the process of logging in, but Google is attempting to streamline the task by allowing you to authenticate with a tap on your smartphone.
If you’re an Android user with the latest version of Google Play Services, or an iOS user with the Google app, you can now configure your Google account to send your device a notification whenever there’s a login attempt. Interacting with the notification (or launching the app) will then allow you to either authorize the login or deny it completely. No codes, nothing to copy, and no typos to trip you up.
To turn on this new authentication method, head over to the security section of your Google account settings. Scroll down to the “Password & sign-in method” box, and click on “2-Step Verification.” Assuming that you already have some other form of two-step authentication activated, navigate down the page to the section marked “Set up alternative second step.” You’ll find the Google Prompt option, and you can now click “Add Phone.”
From here, you’ll be presented with the devices you’ve already associated with your Google account. If you haven’t done so already, Google will walk you through the process of setting it up. Now, select your preferred device, and button through to the next step. At this point, you’ll be asked to try out the new login process. If everything works as planned, you’re good to go from now on.
Even after you’ve turned on Google Prompt, your other authentication methods will continue to work as well. The authenticator app, voice calls, text messages, and backup codes can all still be used to log into your account. Unfortunately, the physical security key can’t be active alongside Google Prompt for the time being. Presumably, Google will be working on solving that issue in the future.
If you rely on multiple devices throughout the day, there’s no need to worry about being left out. You can easily add multiple smartphones and tablets to Google Prompt. I’ve already added my iPhone, iPad, and Moto E to my Google account, and all of them have worked like a charm. Just make sure to only activate Google Prompt on devices with either a passcode or a biometric scanner.
Google certainly wasn’t the first to use this kind of authentication, but this slick implementation can benefit millions of people. Whenever mainstream companies like Google strive to make multi-factor authentication less of a burden, it becomes easier to persuade average internet users to apply an extra layer of protection to their accounts. After all, I can sell “tap yes on your phone” much easier to my parents than “wait for a text, and then enter a string of characters to check your email.”