Google Authenticator update allows switch to new device, at last

Chris Burns - May 6, 2020, 1:55 pm CDT
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Google Authenticator update allows switch to new device, at last

Since inception, the biggest weakness of the Google Authenticator app and service was its inability to move from device to device. The security inherent within the app required that the one device be the place where Google’s code was revealed for each account to which it was connected. Or at least that’s what was generally understood to be the truth. Now, Google’s released a new Google Authenticator update, allowing users to switch between devices.

Google Authenticator is an app that allows the user to add a layer of security to login systems with which Google’s authentication system is compatible. Users connect an account login to the Google Authenticator system, and the user’s Google Authenticator app includes an item on a list. The list item shows a code which changes after a given amount of time.

The user logs in on a 3rd-party service, the 3rd-party service asks for an associated Google Authenticator code, and the user gets said code from their Google Authenticator app. The app shows a single code per account for a limited period of time. If the user enters the associated code in the given amount of time, the user will be logged in successfully.

Before now, users would need to keep their Google Authenticator app on a single device, and that device would keep that code connection essentially forever. The latest version of the Google Authenticator app allows the user to export their account (with associated key connections) and move to a new device, where said code connections can then be called upon.

This new update allows the exporting of accounts using a QR-code system. One user will select the accounts they’d like to use on a new device, and Google Authenticator will store the accounts until the user is ready to roll on a new device. This newest version of the app should be up and available from Google Play as of early May, 2020.

Alternatives to Google Authenticator include Authy, Microsoft Authenticator, and Aegis. Other alternatives exist as well – if you use an app that works like Google Authenticator and find it to be superior to Google’s service, let us know!


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