Media & Entertainment

PasswordBox Makes It Easier To Securely Log In To Mobile Apps With 1-Tap Login On Android (& iOS Beta)


Password manager startup PasswordBox, which closed a $6 million Series A last November months after launching its freemium service, has added a new feature to its convenience boosting arsenal that improves the experience for mobile users by allowing them to sign in to other apps and websites with a single tap, i.e. rather than actually inputting a password, or copy-pasting a secure password.

Called 1-Tap Login, the patent-pending feature launches in full today for Android PasswordBox app users, with an iOS beta version also released — albeit, it stresses that the latter product is a very early release, with few apps and websites supported.

The Android version of 1-Tap supports sign in for 80% of the top 1,000 apps, according to PasswordBox, with more websites being added daily, vs around the top 50 apps on iOS. PasswordBox’s wider claim for Android is that it currently supports about 70% of all logins.

The startup is obviously working on building out that percentage, via an automated process of machine learning that parses different app login screen layouts to figure out where to inject password credentials. It does also employ some human checkers doing quality assurance to verify the algorithm is hitting the bull’s eye.

Support for new apps is not released until they have been through this QA process — so it tells TechCrunch the accuracy rate is pretty much 100% (being as it only releases support for an app/website login once it’s sure it works).

As for app updates that radically redesign the login screens and therefore risk breaking PasswordBox compatibility — these will be flagged via multiple failed logins so it can readjust its algorithms as necessary, without having to do continual manual checking to keep the system ticking over.

The technology behind 1-Tap is something PasswordBox is very proud of — to the point where it unboxed that unparalleled cliche, the “paradigm shift” — also noting that one of its competitors claimed it’s impossible to enable smartphone apps to be liberated from their individual sandboxes so they can talk to other apps on the phone.

Yet PasswordBox has found a way to do this — and claims it’s not a hack or a workaround, either.

“What we’re doing it’s quite revolutionary,” co-founder and CEO, Dan Robichaud, tells TechCrunch. “In the past when you are talking about native apps and native browser, no apps have been able to communicate with other apps because apps are normally sandboxed. We have worked for two years with our R&D team to make it ubiquitous to log in on any apps or any sites at all time on Android.”

“We’re using something on Android that is known and it’s public — it’s not a hack — we’re using basically the accessibility mode that can be activated within one tap. Once you have activated that we’re able to be within your experience in your browser, and be within your experience in different apps when you need to login,” he adds.

There is of course more complexity going on — but getting access on Android via the accessibility mode is the basic principle.

“We need to interact with the app and second we need to communicate in a secure way with our app and pass the right information at the right time and be sure we’re in the right environment, so it seems simple but the fact that no one did it so far in the world it’s because it’s more complex than it looks like,” adds Robichaud.

The same 1-Tap login feature on iOS has only been technically possible since iOS 7, hence PasswordBox’s later development stage on that platform. On iOS it’s using a VPN, says Robichaud — again stressing that it’s not a workaround.

“We’re using a VPN like other people are using. What we’re using is standard. And it’s actually available to many other developers and many other developers are using it — it’s just the first time that someone’s figured out a way to use it for offering one-tap login to people who want to use Safari with a password manager that is not [iCloud] Keychain,” he says.

(PasswordBox’s advantage over and above Apple’s iCloud Keychain system is that it’s not platform specific, allowing users to manage passwords across multiple devices and OSes.)

PasswordBox has big ambitions to stand out in what can be a very utilitarian space — using machine learning technology to improve its compatibility with login forms, and incorporating features such as end-to-end encryption to facilitate secure password sharing for its users, for example, and doing local encryption and decryption on devices, rather than holding any keys itself.

It also includes a digital legacy management offering in its freemium service, and last year bolstered that portion of its business with the acquisition of an early player in that space, Legacy Locker.

On the users front, PasswordBox passed one million registered users last September, around three months after going live. It’s not disclosing any more recent numbers now but says its user-base is growing at a “solid rate”.

With 2014 looking set to usher in a wave of biometric-enabled mobiles, in the wake of Apple adding a fingerprint sensor to the iPhone 5s’ home button last year, PasswordBox is positioning itself to plug in and complement biometric security features on mobile devices.

It wants to act as the password management layer that replaces those still-not-biometric passwords which it reckons will continue to be required for individual apps and websites for a long time to come, while the core phone hardware biometric sensors plays the role of master password for unlocking the device and thus also for providing access to PasswordBox’s trusted, third-party authentication layer.

“Our ultimately goal is to be the bridge between biometric and strong authentication — the old password world where you need to type a username and the password, we actually think that no one solved the password problem in the past because it’s a chicken and egg problem. Where, if you try to integrate directly within every app and every website’s biometric it’s never going to work,” says Robichaud.

“Why is that? First, developers will not agree on something standard and won’t integrate everything that all the different parties will suggest. The second thing is that big players won’t integrate with each other. So we think that by being a layer over the whole authentication or whole login method and by creating strong passwords for all the websites and linking it to biometric, there’s a real opportunity to change people’s behaviour on how to log in to sites without them noticing it that much.”

“We have all the frameworks, the technology — it’s ready to be augmented with biometrics,” he adds.

PasswordBox also has yet more ideas up its sleeve, which it hinted at in during the interview with TechCrunch, albeit, it’s not talking specifics right now.  “The login is just the first key to login to those websites — but then what you do on those websites… you can imagine, once you’re logging in to those websites we have more creative ideas that we’re going to present in the future to enhance your experience,” it says.

More TechCrunch

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo