How to set up autofill services

We have all been in this situation: you have bought a new phone, or decided to factory reset it in search of better performance. Everything is working smoothly, until you have to set up all of your apps again. If you have set up back ups of your data, then this could be potentially easier. However, if you haven’t, there’s the need to log in into your services again.

With so many information leaks, hacks, and other scary stuff in the complicated world of security, a password manager is becoming a necessity rather than an option. Using the same password for everything has never been an option, but it has grown to become laughably insecure in recent years. The biggest problems with password managers is the lack of a reliable, battery-friendly way of filling passwords into apps, just like extensions work on desktop web browsers. Enter the autofill API.

What is autofill?

Since Android Oreo (8.0), Android has added an option to autofill passwords for you. It’s really simple: you go to an app, and your phone will give you an option to autofill your credentials. This is how it looks:

From there, if you tap on the auto-fill button, you will be redirected to your password manager. Here, you will be able to unlock it, and select the appropriate credentials for the app. The password manager even tries to guess which application it is trying to autofill, but it is also possible to search for the login yourself. After selecting it, your application will have the login autofilled for you. No need to go back and forth copying and pasting passwords!

How to activate it?

The steps might vary slightly from device to device, since manufacturers sometimes group settings in different ways. However, try to adapt these steps to your own device and you will find the way around it.

  1. Install the password manager of your choice
  2. Log in to it and go back to the home screen
  3. Go to the Settings of your device
  4. Go to System > Languages and input
  5. Go to the Input Assistance section

There, you will find an option called Autofill service.

If you tap on it, you will have at least three different options: None, Google, and your password manager. By tapping on your password manager, the autofill service will become active for it. In case you still can’t decide between password managers, Android is kind enough to offer you an “Add service” option, which takes you to the Play Store and suggests you renowned password managers with the autofill functionality.

What about accessibility services?

Since this is a fairly new functionality, but password managers have been around for a long time, they worked around this limitation in Android by implementing some workarounds using an accessibility service. In short, they scanned through the fields of every screen looking for one that might accept a password. If they did, then you could autofill it with your credentials.

However, that was slow, battery-hungry, and unreliable. Thus, we recommend to move to the autofill option as soon as possible if your device supports it. All password managers should include this functionality it by now.

Conclusion

In this highly-connected world, in which everyone can access information from all over the world in a matter of seconds, security and privacy are more important than ever. While an increasing amount of services are very eager to make you create accounts for their sites, they often do a pathetic job in keeping this data safe. Thus, a password manager is essential to avoid bad experiences. With a native autofill functionality, there’s no excuses for using age-old methods such as similar (or even the same) passwords for every account. Give it a go and make your life easier and more secure!

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A very quiet person from Guayaquil, Ecuador studying in Tartu, Estonia. I'm passionate about technology since I can remember. I also develop iOS apps and write Android app reviews for a living. Barcelona Sporting Club <3
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