Facebook's "Platmobile" Team Working On Eliminating Mobile Password Entry

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Gozer the Gozerian, The Traveller Has Come

Earlier this evening, Facebook held a developer’s garage event at their headquarters — sort of like a State of the Union for third-party developers. Notably, they announced a new partnership with Y Combinator that has the goal of creating new startups with deep integrations with Facebook’s newest tools. But there was also a Q&A session with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, CTO Bret Taylor, and Y Combinator’s Paul Graham that was pretty interesting.

One question asked if Facebook was working on their instant personalization technology for mobile devices. Taylor fielded the question noting that mobile brought about some interesting technology problems in this regard. Most notably, he said the issue is with password entry on mobile devices. According to Taylor, that’s something they have an entire team focused on right now.

Taylor noted that this team is called the “Platmobile” team (as in: platform + mobile, and said like ‘Batmobile’). This brought some laughs from the audience, but while the name may be somewhat of a joke, their goal is very serious.

Taylor noted that many people have three-letter passwords that they use for mobile services to keep things fast and simple. But obviously that’s not ideal from a security perspective. He noted that many of the developers in the room likely had long passwords that included weird characters for this very reason. But Taylor said that this “10 minute process” was a “really negative part of the user experience.

The Platmobile team is focused on improving that experience. I don’t know the exact timeline on that, but it’s something we’re really focused on because the user experience on the phone right now is sub-par,” Taylor said.

Zuckerberg chimed in to say that the mobile experience is obviously different, so instant personalization would be different too. Perhaps you’d have a group of apps that you set different privileges for (such as password memorization) with such a feature, he noted. “The general trend though is that all of this stuff is going towards less friction to get to social interaction,” Zuckerberg concluded.

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