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Introducing Google Identity Platform; Bolt-On App Security

May 29, 2015 - Written By David Steele

The Google I/O developers conference of an annual event where Google demonstrates and introduces new technologies and updates to existing products and services with something of a bias towards developers. This year has been no different with a number of new technologies showcased and of course, a new version of Android currently called “Android M.” Although Android M is available as a developer preview, it is nowhere near ready for a general release. There is every chance that the version of Android M as released to customers will be noticeably different to the version of Android M we can preview today. However, today’s story concerns a technology that will be available much done and will be relevant to more people, sooner: application security.

Google had been working on shoring up the security of its mobile and web applications over the last year, including changes such as favoring websites that use a secure encrypted connection in Google Search results. Yesterday, the search giant started to directly encourage developers to incorporate safeguards into their applications via their new service, the Google Identity Platform, announced yesterday. This consists of a number of developer tools for adding password management, single sign-in and identity authentication for accounts and users. Developers are now able to use Google’s Smart Lock password manager, integrated into the Google Chrome web browser, in order to save into and retrieve from their customers’ login, which may be used to sign into Android-based applications and websites from Chrome. From a customer perspective, this has the advantage that once a username and password have been fed into the Chrome browser and saved, he or she will not need to re-enter them for the same site on another device, providing the Chrome browser is also used. We are aware that some companies are already trialing the technology such as Netflix, where the system can keep users signed in across multiple devices and keeps viewing content in synchronization. We are also aware that Eventbrite, Orbitz, Instacart and The New York Times are using the system, too.

From a developer perspective, Google’s encouragement essentially means writing the code and necessary infrastructure so that the Google Identity Platform may be bolted on to their application. This will prevent the developer needing to reinvent the wheel. From Google’s perspective, it encourages customers to stick with the Google Chrome browser. And from a customer perspective, this will simplify how to use secure websites and should ultimately lead to a safer way to access websites.