Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Apple’s heard your screams: iOS 16 will complete captchas for you

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(Image credit: TechRadar)

If you’ve come across a captcha that’s stopped you from logging in to your email or another site, iOS 16 will be able to do this for you with some additional code for servers hosting websites and apps.

If you’re not familiar, captchas are small popups that appear when you log in to a website. It may ask you once or twice to select six boats from nine pictures, and if you pass, you’re allowed into your account. But these have annoyed many people over the years, mainly due to it being an overly complex problem that’s seen as overkill to verify an account.

According to a developer video (opens in new tab) from Apple, iOS 16 is getting another small feature that can get rid of these frustrations on your iPhone. It also makes a big impact for those with accessibility needs, as this feature will let them into their account without having to solve a puzzle if they have hearing or visual impairments.

Apple is touting Private Access Tokens for this feature, which will be sent to the server of the website as a way of authentication, letting the site know that the user has passed a security check thanks to iCloud. While you can enable this by going to Settings> AppleID> Privacy and Security> Automatic Verification, Apple hasn’t confirmed whether this will be coming to macOS Ventura.

Analysis: One small useful feature at a time

(Image credit: Apple)Captchas are part of a legacy that needs to disappear forever on the internet. Other examples such as figuring out a maths problem, or placing a monkey’s arm the correct way, are other ridiculous security methods that don’t make sense to anyone.

Take banking apps for example. For some purchases, you’ll need to log in to your banking app to approve a payment, then go back to the shopping app or site in question to complete the order. There’s no captcha, and it just uses your face or finger (or PIN) to authenticate the purchase.

This is Apple’s take on what banking apps are already doing, and it’s a step in the right direction. However, what could make this a slam-dunk for users is that the code can be applied to a server that hosts a bunch of websites, such as Cloudflare and Fastly. This means that the addition of this feature could apply to all of the sites a server hosts in one swoop, hastening the decline of captchas.

Again, this is another small feature from iOS 16 that’s going to make a big difference to many, especially those with visual impairments, and it makes us wonder what else could be coming from Apple to get rid of more irritants that we come across on the web.

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he’s written a book, ‘The Making of Tomb Raider’, alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app or one that’s about to launch, drop him a line.

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