[Explained] Passkeys: What Are They, How Do They Work And Can They Replace Passwords?

Passkeys are supposedly going to replace passwords in the future, but what are they and how do they work? We tell you everything about them.


Most of you would agree that innovation in the tech world has become limited, not because nobody is trying anything new, but just because the scope of evolution is reaching a saturation point. Having said that, one must admit that tech companies are working steadfastly to replace passwords so that it becomes easier but safer to access your digital accounts. You’ve had password managers doing the bulk of the work and making sure you don’t have to remember the passwords for each account. 

Soon, the passwords will be completely replaced with new innovative products like passkeys, which are now part of the Google Chrome web browser. So, what are passkeys, how do they work and do they have the power to become the password replacements that everyone has been craving? Here’s everything you need to know about them. 

Also Read: Google Chrome: How to See Saved Passwords on Google Chrome Desktop and Mobile Apps

What Are Passkeys? 

Passwords seem to have run their course, and while password managers are effective, the likes of Google don’t view it as the future. In comes passkeys, which is basically using the WebAuthn standard to generate a passkey that matches with each website and lets you log in. 

As you might be aware, password managers generate random alpha-numeric passwords that are equally hard to decrypt or hack. With the passkeys, the risk of getting your account hacked reduces further. Google has introduced passkeys on Chrome for Windows 11, macOS and Android devices. You could say that passkeys are the evolved version of a password manager. 

Also Read: Chrome Flags: How To Enable Flags on Google Chrome Browser to Try New Features

How Do Passkeys Work? 

Passkeys are about converging passwords in a secure manner and also utilising the effectiveness of biometric hardware features. Passkeys include a private key which is generated for each website you want to log in to. It will source the passwords and store it on iCloud for macOS users, Password Manager for Android and Windows Hello for those using Chrome on Windows 11. Yes, that’s right, passkeys are not available on Windows 10, or Chrome OS for that matter. 

Users will have the option to log in using their Face ID, fingerprint ID or the phone lock PIN. This way, you are always certain that unless the hardware is hacked, your accounts will be secure from any phishing attack or regular intrusion since all the passwords are locked behind a private key, which is hard to breach. 

Phones have become a vital tool for sign-ins, and passkeys are giving it a similar stature in its process. Google says that passkeys can be used on websites and apps that support it. But sadly, the support list is skimp right now, especially since most of the people are still on Windows 10 (over 60 per cent as per Microsoft), while Windows 11 is the compatible version for passkeys. 

But the cross-integration with a platform makes passkeys extremely handy. You can actually use an iPhone or an Android phone to choose a passkey and log in to your account on a macOS or Windows 11 machine, respectively. You need Bluetooth to help detect the device in proximity, and give it access to the said account. The connection is seamless if you have both a PC and a mobile device from the same ecosystem, or else you need to sign in using a QR code 

Passkeys are not transmitted through the server, instead, the code generated by the Web Authn is secure, which means there is nothing to leak. 

Also Read: How to Turn Off Website Notifications on Google Chrome or Edge Browsers on Mobile and Desktop

Passkeys – End Of Passwords? 

Google has rolled out passkeys on Chrome for a limited set of websites and apps, which clearly suggests that it is early days for the so-called password alternative, so it would be hard to say if the technology would be full-proof to become the de-facto login system in the near future. And if so, will the password come to an end? That’s unlikely to happen, even if innovative features like passkeys come to the forefront, but you can never say never.