Email Without Passwords: How Yahoo Account Key Works

Your smartphone can be your key to login in.

Yahoo users can now just tap a "yes" button to login to email — no password required. Yahoo has announced Account Key, a service you can turn on in the Yahoo Mail smartphone app's settings which attempts to simplify and secure your mobile email experience. When you try to check your inbox on any device or desktop, you'll get a push notification on your smartphone to confirm you are actually you; not a robot or some terrible dude attempting to steal your identity or hack emails from your grandma who's just trying to send pictures from her new iPad. This way, you have to physically confirm you're the one signing in, rather than entering a set of letters and numbers anyone can steal or guess. It's as simple as tapping "Yes" when a push notification asks "Are you trying to sign in?"

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Yahoo's Account Key follows the push to simplify our digital lives while still boosting security. For example, Apple Pay requires your thumbprint on your iPhone to make a purchase — no login or password like most banking apps. This is Yahoo's second big move to eliminate memorized passwords. In March, users could sign up for on-demand passwords. "It was the first step towards a password-free future," said Dylan Casey, Yahoo's vice president of product management. Yahoo sends a unique code to your phone to sign in to your account. It's similar to Gmail's optional verification feature, which texts a code to your smartphone for you to enter in a browser. However, with Gmail, to receive the code, you first have to type your password.

But what happens if you leave your phone in a cab or drop it in a toilet? Luckily, you can go into the app's settings to access your Yahoo inbox from another device. Of course, some users might be more comfortable with a trusted password or the convenience and locked-down features that come with using a password manager such as 1Password. But whether or not you like the way this Yahoo future looks, if you're someone who is constantly forgetting your password, tapping might be the way to go.

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You can now sign up for Account Key. But if you're still on the fence, all you have to do is keep remembering those eight characters plus a number and capital letter that's a combination of your firstborn's birthday and your wedding anniversary. Good luck, friend.


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