Why is Apple beta testing a feature to bypass CAPTCHAs?

Apple’s iOS16 may bring Private Access Tokens along with a host of other updates for users. The upgrade will be released later this year

Apple’s iOS16 may bring Private Access Tokens along with a host of other updates for users. The upgrade will be released later this year

Apple is reportedly beta testing a feature that allows users to bypass CAPTCHA. Yes, those pesky grille boxes that ask you to identify zebra crossings, signals and fire hydrants.

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A CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) is a security measure to verify that the person behind the screen is real or a bot trying to break into a password-protected account.

CAPTCHAs are used by platforms including Google, government websites and apps to prevent unauthorized account access on websites that may display sensitive information. While the feature is beneficial to users, they are usually a hassle. And so Apple is beta testing iOS 16, something the company calls Private Access Tokens.

In a video released to developers, Apple explains how their tokens work. They apparently have a two-way benefit for users. First, they mask users’ IP addresses, which are often accessed by servers when entering CAPTCHA to ensure user authenticity, thus guaranteeing greater user privacy. Second, these users will save the hassle of entering CAPTCHAs every time they visit a website.

How do Private Access Tokens work?

Simply put, Apple’s systems verify the status of a device – whether it’s in good standing will be determined based on the device’s usage patterns, and present a Private Access Token to the website or app it’s accessing. Thus, this system eliminates the need for CAPTCHAs in the process that improves user access when creating an account or visiting a website.

“Don’t get caught by CAPTCHAs! Private Access Tokens are a powerful alternative that allows you to identify HTTP requests from legitimate devices and people without compromising their identities or personal information,” reads the description of the video released by Apple.

Apple has named Fastly and Cloudflare as two CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) that have already made their issuer services available. Apple also stated that other publishers, including CAPTCHA providers, web hosting services and CDNs, will sign up for the program later this year. And that Private Access Tokens will be available to iOS16, iPadOS16 and macOS Ventura users as these respective software roll out to users.

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