Google is moving forward with Project Abacus, a system to kill password sign-ins on Android. But how many will trust this hot new technology which is to be made available for developer testing later in 2016? Instead of trying to remember a complicated password, you will be able to log into apps or accounts if your smartphone decides that your are the rightful owner. The device makes this judgement based on information provided by a bunch of sensors hidden inside it.
The Project Abacus software will allow users to unlock their phone or automatically sign into apps requiring authentication, based on a ‘Trust Score.’ The last mentioned studies cues such as how the user walks, their face, the way they type, their location patterns and so on to figure out whether or not password-free access to the handset can be provided. The system perfects its recognition ability by continuously collecting relevant data about the user.
Google already offers something similar on Android called Smart Lock. The feature can be activated through Settings > Personal > Security > Advanced > Trust Agents. It keeps the smartphone in question unlocked when the owner is carrying it around, is at a trusted place, has a familiar Bluetooth device connected to it and more. Fingerprint authentication is fallible. Passwords and PINs can be forgotten. And pattern unlock can be bothersome.
Yet, would you trade privacy for convenience? Google certainly hopes so. TechCrunch notes that apps may ask for different trust scores depending on the level of security required. For example, a banking application may only admit a high trust score, and demand a password in case of a low one. We can see all sorts of headaches in store for users, from not knowing how their data is being used to getting locked out of their phones accidentally.
Our Google Project Abacus trust score? Zero.