One of the world’s most prominent tech companies has finally joined the FIDO Alliance. Apple has officially become the latest member of the organization, and will immediately step into a role as a board-level member alongside fellow tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, and Google.
The news suggests that Apple is becoming more invested in the fight against passwords, or at least that it is more willing to work with other companies towards that end. The FIDO Alliance has spent the past several years encouraging businesses and individuals to adopt more secure alternatives to passwords, including biometric and device-based authentication.
Apple has consistently been a trendsetter in that department, first with its Touch ID fingerprint recognition platform, and then again with the introduction of Face ID. The use of fingerprint and facial recognition on Apple’s popular mobile devices (most notably the iPhone) helped normalize the concept of biometric authentication for millions of consumers.
Since then, biometric authentication has become the new norm in mobile devices. Virtually every manufacturer now offers phones with some form of fingerprint and/or facial recognition.
As a member of the FIDO Alliance, Apple will have the opportunity to take on a more active role in the passwordless technology conversation, and to work with other tech companies to set standards for the entire mobile industry. It should also advance FIDO’s efforts to establish a more reliable authentication ecosystem.
Though the news is unexpected, there have been signs that Apple has been more receptive to FIDO protocols in the past few years. The Safari web browser received FIDO2 support back in 2017, and WebAuthn support two years later. More recently, an Apple NFC update in September made Yubico’s contactless security keys compatible with the latest iPhones.
Nok Nok Labs has also released a FIDO Authentication SDK for Apple’s watchOS.