Following hot on the heels of Google's recent introduction of passkeys, WhatsApp has revealed it too is now rolling out support for passkeys, with Android devices the first to get the new feature on the popular messaging app.
It's another potential nail in the coffin for the humble password, with passkeys widely being hailed as the future of online account security. Their main advantage is that they're considerably more user-friendly than traditional password security, which can easily become unmanageable given its increasingly complex demands.
Instead of complicated alphanumeric combinations, passkeys promise to let you log in to your accounts with nothing more than your face, fingerprint, or a physical mobile device. It means you'll be able to access your messages more quickly than ever, so let's take a look at how to setup passkeys on WhatsApp for Android. We'll update this guide to include other platforms as the functionality becomes available.
How To Set Up Passkeys on WhatsApp for Android
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WhatsApp, the widely used messaging platform owned by Meta, announced that it was phasing in passkeys on X (formerly Twitter). Independent user reports indicate that the new passwordless security feature is up and running for select users. If that's you, or you want to find out if you've got support yet, here's how to setup passkeys on WhatsApp for Android.
- Ensure you are logged in to your Google account and have a lock screen enabled
- Open WhatsApp on your Android phone
- Navigate to Settings > Passkeys
- Select “Create Passkeys”
- Follow the instructions to connect your phone's lock screen to WhatsApp
- Choose what type of new passkey to create: PIN, fingerprint, or facial recognition
A final caveat that the you'll need to be using an Android device running Android 9 or above. Your mileage with biometric security will also vary depending on your device, so if you don't get the option for facial recognition (for example) that's probably because you don't have a compatible handset.
WhatsApp adds that it is rolling out passkey support over the coming “weeks and months,” so if you don't see the option to create a passkey in WhatsApp, don't worry: your number probably just hasn't been called yet.
How Do Passkeys on WhatsApp Actually Work?
As we've mentioned, passkey security works by utilizing the biometric sensors that are integrated into many current smartphones, or harnessing a preset PIN number on your handset. This data is stored locally (e.g. physically) on your cell or other mobile device, so your authentication is “secured” by the fact you have to be in possession of the hardware to successfully complete the log-in process.
They are an alternative to the long, often absurdly complicated passwords that are required to secure all manner of online accounts and services these days – measures that have now gone so far, they've spawned a highly successful spoof in The Password Game.
If you go off the idea, then you can easily revert to using a traditional password on WhatsApp and other platforms that now offer passkey security. However, you might be like us and quite excited about the prospect of a passwordless future, even if we're not quite ready to announce its total demise just yet.
Are Passkeys the Future of Online Security?
Google and WhatsApp are two of the biggest names to have joined the passwordless revolution, while the likes of Apple and Microsoft have also committed to creating a new online security standard based around passkeys. You may also have encountered the option to setup passkeys on platforms like eBay and Uber.
As such, there's little doubt that passkeys are part of the future of online security. However, it's important not to overestimate their promise, as many online accounts will still almost certainly require 2FA (two-factor authentication), especially for work and business users.
Here, passkeys can potentially supplant the password element in two-factor security, while stopping short of replacing the 2FA process entirely. While passkey technology continues to take root, it's still good general advice to use one of the best password managers if you want to simplify your online security whilst ensuring you stay on right side of best practice.