One of the most annoying things about technology that we must endure on a daily basis is authentication. We need to input at least one password or use a biometric reader to access our devices and online accounts. Authentication is also needed to pair all sorts of devices, to confirm they’re all ours. On the other hand, passwords are what keep our digital worlds safe, so they’re a necessary evil.
Many companies are already trying to “kill” the password, although what they’re actually doing is trying to replace passwords with something else. And Apple may be relying on sound to do it.
A developer found an interesting detail buried in the leaked HomePod software we’ve been hearing so much about over the past few weeks. You can set up the speaker manually without typing a passcode. All you need to do it is to play a sound.
Guilherme Rambo posted an image online that shows a purported screenshot from the HomePod software. “Your iPhone is listening to a tone from the HomePod. Make sure it is nearby and unobstructed,” the notification reads. It’s apparently a screen that we’ll see pop up on iPhones when a connection to the HomePod fails.
That’s certainly a novel way to hook up two devices via Bluetooth for the first time. Sadly, it doesn’t appear to be any more exciting than that. You use this sound authentication method only once, when you setup the HomePod for the first time. It’s unclear whether this sound-based authentication system will be used anywhere else inside Apple’s ecosystem of devices. However, it’s still an interesting detail that indicates Apple is looking to make its setup procedures as easy as possible for the user.
In the past, Apple has used similar tricks to set up an Apple TV with the help of an iPhone. And iOS 11 comes with a neat trick called Automatic Setup that will let you automatically set up a new iPhone by pairing it with an old one.