Good news for iPhone owners who use Google services. The Apple cell phone can now be used as a hardware ” key ” for two-step verification ( 2-factor authentication, 2FA) in securing a Google account. This capability was added via an update to the Google Smart Lock application on iOS.
When opening an updated application, a prompt will appear to activate the built-in security lock on the iPhone. After the security lock is activated, iPhone will open the Smart Lock application every time the user enters a Google account user name and password on a device.
The iPhone must be around the device that will log into the Google account. Because authentication is done via Bluetooth, not just sending codes via the internet. The Bluetooth feature on the login device must also be activated.
Thus, the iPhone becomes a hardware key that must be taken when going into a Google account. According to information compiled from 9to5Google, Thursday (1/16/2020), Google is utilizing the Secure Enclave feature on Apple’s A-series Apple chip to use the phone as a hardware security key.
Hardware-based keys such as the iPhone (via the Smart Lock application) are considered safer than the 2FA code sent via SMS. Actually this is not a completely new feature because Google has previously made all Android 7.0 devices can be used as 2FA keys when logging into Gmail, Drive, and other services.