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App Development
6 minutes read

iOS Authentication Services Explained

by Mario Tatis
App Development
6 minutes read

When it comes to iOS app development, including authentication services can add a lot of value to users. Increased security is the most obvious benefit of authentication. However, a better User Experience is another important aspect to consider. 

As mobile devices become more integrated into our daily routines, apps will require more robust user authentication protocols. Failing to guarantee the right authentication method may result in a critical error. 

Apple is characterized by being a company that has always considered user safety to be a priority. This is particularly true in the case of iOS authentication. Apple mobile devices make sure, through the user-oriented iOS, that user credentials are verified in a secure manner, always keeping in mind the User Experience. 

In this post, we explain the importance of mobile authentication and how to best implement it in iOS devices in order to deliver a powerful User Experience.

App Authentication Services Explained

Given the need that app users have to secure their information in their mobile devices, many app developers opt to include different alternatives to validate credentials. In this sense, mobile authentication is the process in which a user validates credentials. In other words, authentication is another name for identity verification. To validate an app’s user credentials, a mobile device may request different types of authentication data.

Sometimes an operating system may request data that validates user credentials directly. This often leads to a Single Sign-on Authentication (SSO), where users can access various services and features on a mobile device with only a single sign-in. However, on most occasions, apps are the ones that authenticate user credentials. This requires authenticating credentials for specific purposes, and it is sometimes needed to increase security. Depending on the user journey, different authentication methods exist. 

The most common app authentication method is the traditional password request. Without entering the correct password, access to an app may not be granted. This helps guarantee that a user’s data is safe, but it is not completely secure. Although asking for a password has long been the de facto authentication standard, it has been changing in recent years.

The Risk of Using Poor Authentication Methods

When it comes to using poorly built or the wrong authentication services, the risks can be very high; this becomes even worse when using an SSO. An error in authentication methods during the app development process can have several unwanted consequences: 

  • Compromised user data
  • Identity theft
  • Financial losses 
  • Stolen passwords
  • Reduced privacy
  • Hacked software

Not all authentication failures are the same. Some are worse than others, but in general, they can all be prevented in a similar way: through innovation. App developers are constantly thinking about new and more secure authentication methods that safeguard mobile devices against any potential security breach. This helps guarantee that only users are able to validate their credentials. 

Changes in Authentication Methods

As technology moves forward, so does the possibility to hack existing systems and access confidential data. A simple password authentication protocol was once secure enough for any app. However, this is no longer the case. A user’s data may easily be compromised if an app is not properly developed around strict security best practices

With more data being stored in the Cloud, password security has only seen new problems arise. Although the Cloud is secure, it has become common to hear about thousands of user passwords being stolen from an insecure data warehouse. Even if users use secure passwords, an error on behalf of the data manager may compromise access to critical data. 

This is one of the reasons why companies like Apple are constantly innovating secure ways to validate user credentials.

iOS Authentication Services

When it comes to mobile devices, iOS has one of the most secure and user-friendly authentication services. For Apple devices, a simple password is no longer the default authentication request method. 

Apple Two-Factor Authentication

Apple has implemented an Apple ID authentication method that requires establishing a device as secure. For a while now, Apple has been moving away from SSO methods towards Two-Factor Authentication. This adds an extra layer of security for Apple ID credentials, helping safeguard users against any potential error during the app development process. That way, even if someone knows your password or it is hacked, you will be able to stay safe. One of the best things about a Two-Factor Authentication is that it works equally well for both an app and a web service.

How Apple Two-Factor Authentication Works

From an Apple user’s perspective, contrary to SSO, Two-Factor Authentication requires establishing the device as a secure one. This helps restrict access to Apple services and features from unauthorized devices.

When logging in with the Apple ID to a new device, a user first receives a password request, and subsequently, a verification code request; this last is sent to the user’s registered mobile device. Once the new device is set as secure, the user will no longer need to introduce the verification code to access an app or other features. When using a web service, the browser will keep the access information available for the specific device.

There are a number of Apple devices that can use this authentication method. Trusted iOS devices include the iPhone and iPad. However, keep in mind that this only works for Apple’s mobile devices with iOS 9 or later. When it comes to Mac, it is necessary to have OS X El Capitan or later versions.

Apple Face ID and Touch ID

Apple also offers its users other authentication services known as biometric authentication. These include Face ID and Touch ID. As an app development company, we consider these two alternatives to be some of the most secure ways to access a device. We expect technology to move forward in this direction.

Users can decide to use these alternatives at their will, so iOS apps need to be ready to process this request or use the traditional password login instead. Keep in mind that if a user decides to use biometric authentication for iOS, it is most likely that your app or web service does not need to ask permission to use the same method. Whatever your decision is, try to think in terms of the User Experience

Final Thoughts on iOS Authentication

Whatever your choices are, make sure to contact an experienced app development company that can give you honest feedback about what is best for your app. Having the right authentication method is key to guarantee a secure and powerful User Experience. Failing to do so may damage your app and your brand. 

Staying up to date with the latest technologies is crucial to guaranteeing the success of your iOS app. What works today might not work tomorrow.

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