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One of the most bothersome online browsing issues is being fixed by iOS 16

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Once iOS 16 is released, CAPTCHAs may become obsolete.

image credits: bgr

Since Apple WWDC 2022, the company has released a continuous stream of new features. Now that most CAPTCHAs have been eliminated, Apple customers can add it to the list of changes that the future operating systems will have. It’s as easy as turning on an option in Apple’s future software, which should save customers a tonne of time (more on that later).

On websites where the token issuer (also known as a CDN) is Fastly or Cloudflare, the new Automatic Verification functionality will let Apple users avoid CAPTCHAs in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura. The Privacy Pass protocol, which ensures that user data is kept anonymous, was created by these two CDNs in collaboration with Apple and Google.

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Before the public beta releases in July, developers can already use Automatic Verification in the beta versions of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura. Users of the iPhone, iPad, and Mac operating those beta versions can already test Automatic Verification on a number of websites because the new feature is compatible with more than 100 servers. Later this year, most likely when both operating systems launch, additional CDNs will be able to register with Apple.

Verification automatically: What are CAPTCHAs?

You have dealt with a CAPTCHA if you have ever encountered a web page that prompts you to “Select all images with fire hydrants.” The same rule applies to any boxes where you are instructed to “enter the characters above” or to merely click “I’m not a robot.” These security measures are designed to keep bots off-site, enhancing user experience and security for actual users.

How do Private Access Tokens differ from CAPTCHAs for automatic verification?

Similar to CAPTCHAs, Private Access Tokens are a technique for verifying a user’s identity as a human while they are viewing a website. This technique, in contrast to a CAPTCHA, is entirely silent. This is because Automatic Verification communicates with the token issuer to attest to the fact that the user has previously verified their human status by logging into iCloud on their Apple device.

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What are the advantages of automatic verification?

In a video from WWDC 2022, Apple’s Tommy Pauly (opens in new tab) claims that Automatic Verification will “Save a lot of people a lot of time.” It is difficult to disagree with Cloudflare’s claim that CAPTCHAs now squander 500 human years of internet users’ time every day.

But when additional token issuers sign up with Apple to be able to accept Private Access Tokens, the benefit might really start to snowball. According to Apple, each authorised token issuer must cooperate with hundreds of servers. This indicates that as more token providers choose to use Private Access Tokens, large portions of the internet will begin to function with Automatic Verification simultaneously. These tokens were also created in collaboration with Google, so it’s possible that Android will soon get this feature as well.

How to enable automatic verification

Automatic Verification can currently only be enabled by users running a development beta of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, or macOS Ventura. The steps, however, are said to be fairly straightforward. Users only need to access the Apple ID portion of the Settings app. When you get there, choose Password & Security and set Automatic Verification on.

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