AgileBits shows off what Android O’s Autofill Framework will look like
AgileBits, the developers behind 1Password, are showing off what Android O’s new password autofill framework will look like once implemented. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Android O was recently announced earlier this week and one of the changes outlined in the Developer Preview is the new Autofill Framework. Since Android O is still in its infancy, we had no way of knowing exactly how this Autofill Framework would work in practice for the end user, until now.
As you can see in the screen capture above, published on AgileBits’ Vimeo channel, when the user navigates to a login page (eg. Twitter), the Autofill Framework notified the 1Password Autofill Service that there were some input fields it could enter values for. The Autofill Service tells the Autofill Framework that 1Password recognized the field as a valid username/password input field, but that 1Password needed to be unlocked first before entry. After unlocking 1Password with biometrics, the user’s credentials were displayed in a dropdown menu which, after selected, are automatically filled in.
Given the explosion of popularity in password managers in recent years thanks to an increasing number of data breaches, it makes sense for Google to officially support password managers as their own unique category of application in Android. Users will now spend less time filling in password input fields, as they will no longer have to switch apps or input methods in order to access their password. Plus, it should be more secure than the copy/paste method of password entry, since Android’s clipboard is accessible by any app on your device.
Once you’re on Android O, a new autofill service menu will be accessible under Settings –> Apps & Notifications –> Default apps –> Autofill app. Much like Android’s Accessibility Services or Notification Listeners, you will have to go to this menu to manually grant your password manager app the permission to start its Autofill Service. Developers can learn how to do so on the Android Developers documentation page for the Autofill Framework.
This move is a great step forward in making mundane tasks easier to perform. I’m a big fan of password autofill frameworks, having used several on my desktop browsers, although I prefer to use open source password managers such as Keepass for my password management. In any case, Android O is still in its early stages, so it will take some time before every password manager service gets updated to support this new feature in Android O.