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Google rolled out an update to its Google Authenticator, making it more practical as an authenticator app. Starting today, it should now support Google Account synchronization across both iOS and Android devices. Nonetheless, given that the cloud syncing of one-time passcodes could also mean some risks (as it could allow bad actors to access your other accounts when they break into one), Google said it is optional.
The feature has been one of the biggest requests for Google Authenticator, and we understand why. Previously, losing your device could mean a huge headache as it would prevent you from signing in to the services employing the app’s two-factor authentication. The search giant addressed this in its latest blog announcing the news.
“One major piece of feedback we’ve heard from users over the years was the complexity in dealing with lost or stolen devices that had Google Authenticator installed,” Google says. “Since one time codes in Authenticator were only stored on a single device, a loss of that device meant that users lost their ability to sign in to any service on which they’d set up 2FA using Authenticator.”
The update introduces a new way for the Authenticator to automatically back up and restore codes when users are signed in to a Google Account within Google Authenticator. It is also possible to manually transfer codes to another device without signing in to a Google Account.
“With this update we’re rolling out a solution to this problem, making one time codes more durable by storing them safely in users’ Google Account,” it adds. “This change means users are better protected from lockout and that services can rely on users retaining access, increasing both convenience and security.”
The update is now available to all Authenticator users. Nonetheless, Google stressed that account syncing is optional.