Google may be looking to introduce a new system for logging into its accounts that is completely devoid of passwords. Google hasn’t explicitly stated this, but the new changes that were rolled out to Gmail for the web this week suggest that Google may be at least exploring its options for a more secure login method. For those that may have missed the changes to Gmail, what Google has done is now split the entry of the username and password into two separate screens, first requesting users enter their username and then proceed to enter their password on a newly formed login screen once the correct username has been recognized, processed, and accepted. Separating the username and password into different screens is something Android users have been used to since last year when Google rolled it out to the mobile platform.
This is actually a change that not everyone is likely seeing right away as Google states that they’re rolling out these tweaks to the sign-in process over the coming days, so for some users both username and password login may still appear as a one-page login. Don’t expect it to stay that way for long, however, as “the coming days” most likely means they’ll have everyone set up and ready to be engaging these changes by the weekend. Alongside the explanation and announcement of these changes to the Google account login process, Google also mentions that they’re exploring and “looking towards introducing new authentication solutions that complement traditional passwords.”
What this particular statement seems to suggest is that they may already have something in development to replace the password altogether, or at least offer users the added option of logging in by other means instead of having to enter passwords and user names every single time. Tech Crunch points out one possible scenario, a method similar to that of Google’s Android implemented ‘Trusted Devices’ option which lets users unlock their devices when they come in proximity of their smartphone or tablet while they have a designated trusted device on their person. There are various different ‘Smart Lock’ options alongside the trusted devices unlock like on-body detection for example, and this may be one direction Google is looking to explore for the login process on the web. As part of these new sign-in changes, Google mentions that people’s profile pictures may end up appearing on the login screen, but only if it’s a device where they have signed in from before.