WhatsApp has begun rolling out support for a new feature that will allow you to log in to your account using the biometric authentication mechanism on your smartphone. The messaging service will soon allow you to create a passkey — a kind of login credential that eliminates the need to use or remember a password — on your device and use it to securely log in to apps and services using the facial recognition or fingerprint scanner on your device.
Feature tracker WABetaInfo spotted the new passkey feature on WhatsApp beta for Android 126.96.36.199 on Tuesday, that is rolling out to beta users. However, not all users who have updated to the latest beta release will have access to the feature, which is reportedly rolling out to a “limited number of beta testers”. Gadgets 360 was unable to access the feature on two different Android smartphones that are both enrolled in the beta program.
The new passkey feature is described as a “simple way to sign in safely” to WhatsApp in a screenshot shared by the feature tracker. This suggests that it could be used to help sign in to other devices via secure authentication on your primary device.
Authenticating using passkeys isn’t a novel concept and the technology is slowly gaining traction online— Google already allows you to log in to a new device by using fingerprint-based biometric authentication for passkeys in place of a password. These passkeys are securely stored on your device and used when biometric authentication is provided.
The screenshot posted by WABetaInfo also states that WhatsApp will store the passkey in the device’s password manager — for most users, that would be the device’s default password store that is handled by Google with autofill support. The feature is also expected to make its way to iOS, where it is likely to be stored in the iOS Keychain.
It is currently unclear whether WhatsApp will also support storing passkeys in third-party apps like Bitwarden, 1Password, or Dashlane. We can expect to learn more about how the feature works when it is rolled out to more users in the beta program and the feature is expected to arrive on all smartphones on the stable channel in the future.