Android O brings with it a better use case for AutoFill and here’s how LastPass will use it

Android O, the next version of Android after Nougat, is coming later in the year. It will bring with a host of refinements to Nougat in the quest to make Android better and more usable by the over 1 billion people that rely on it daily.

One of those features, an enhancement of AutoFill through APIs available to developers. AutoFill, for those not in the know, is the feature that allows a password manager or any other app with the necessary permission access, for that matter, to, well, “auto-fill” information in a pop-up app window or browser tab. Simple as that.

When the Android O Developer Preview was announced last month, I gushed, “Users of apps that make use of autofill like yours truly and his LastPass (a password manager) will be glad to know that Android O will be bringing native support for autofill for the first time ever on the Android platform. Thank God!”

True to form, one of the leading developers of Android password managers, AgileBits, was up with a blog post detailing how its app, 1Password, would be updated to take advantage of the feature as soon as Android O drops (as if we expected anything less).

Yesterday was the turn of yet another developer of a popular password manager to let the world know what their plans were in the wake of Google’s decision to provide access to AutoFill APIs.

Today, LastPass relies on Android’s accessibility features to identify password fields we can help you fill. The accessibility approach has two drawbacks which we believe Autofill will address: (1) it’s more processor-intensive, counteracting the time we want to save our users, and (2) it requires that users grant us extra permissions. The Autofill Framework is purpose-built to allow apps like LastPass to fill eligible forms on a user’s behalf, and nothing else,” the LastPass team writes in a blog post.

Now, LastPass is not the most trustworthy password manager (none is, anyway) but Google is pretty much in charge of things here and ugly things like those that affected desktop browsers are not what we expect to see when the feature is fully implemented.

Knowing so well how frustrating it is to have to keep the LastPass app on my Android home screen (when I could use that space for a more deserving app) and having to keep going back to it to copy passwords and paste them in other open apps (a risky measure by itself since they get to be logged on the clipboard) since some of the phones I keep using limit LastPass’ Accessibility, I can’t wait to see what LastPass and others can come up with and hope that, for once, things will be seamless.

LastPass is available on the PlayStore.

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Emmanuel Chenze

Let's just say I know my stuff. I have 7 years experience handling, tinkering with and then writing extensively about Android stuff. Sometimes it is exciting, sometimes it is not; things can get stale with nothing new to show but I live for each one of those moments. Have something Android-related that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze@androidkenya.com