Google Authenticator has just received an update that should make it easier for users to sign into apps and websites.
Google Authenticator now syncs any two-factor authentication (2FA), one-time codes it generates, to the Google Accounts of users. Previously, the one-time Authenticator code was stored on a single, local device. Losing that device meant you could not sign into any service using Authenticator 2FA.
Update the Authenticator application to take advantage of this new feature. Signed in to a Google Account through Google Authenticator will backup and restore your codes on any device. If you are not signed into a Google Account, you can manually transfer your codes by following these steps.
Even if the codes were generated by a Google product, some users may be hesitant to sync them with Google’s cloud. Christiaan Brand is a Google group product manager and says that the company wants to be convenient without compromising security.
Brand announced the change in a blog post. “We launched Google Authenticator as a way for sites in 2010 to add something you’ve got’ 2FA which bolsters security when users sign in,” Brand wrote. With this update, we are rolling out a fix to this problem. We’re making one-time codes more durable by safely storing them in the users’ Google accounts.
Google has not always been transparent about Authenticator’s roadmap. The app was originally an open-source project but became proprietary. Its official open-source forks on Android, iOS, and BlackBerry haven’t seen any updates in years.
There are many alternatives to Authenticator. Authy and Duo are both popular choices. The duo was also The New York Times’s top pick.