Windows Hello allows users to log into Windows 10 machines using biometric security. Microsoft is set to expand the feature so that a companion device like your iPhone, Android phone or smartwatch can also log you in.
Microsoft detailed the new capabilities during a talk at its Ignite 2016 conference last week. The company lists smartphones, fitness trackers/smartwatches, USB drives, security cards and key fobs as potential Windows Hello companion devices. It’s possible the feature could even come built into a future version of the Microsoft Authenticator app, which lets you verify your identity for multiple online accounts.
It’s unclear if this feature will be available for consumers or strictly limited to business customers. Microsoft senior program manager Anoosh Saboori referred to the service as “Windows Hello for business” multiple times in the presentation, according to Paul Thurrott, a journalist who keeps his ear to the ground for all things Microsoft. However, there’s no obvious reason why it couldn’t work for regular users as well.
Saboori also hinted at future plans for Windows Hello features that build on companion device support. For example, if you walked away from your computer while carrying a connected device the PC could lock automatically. However, it’s unclear when Microsoft will actually be ready to roll out a feature like that.
The use of a smartphone to verify an identity with Windows Hello could be particularly powerful in a professional environment. Most people already carry a phone at all times, making it an easy office-wide solution. Additionally, by storing your login credentials on an iPhone or Android device, you could jump onto any office computer by simply holding the smartphone nearby.
Wearables and other companion devices might not be able to store that information, limiting you to computers where your credentials are already saved. Microsoft wouldn’t be the first to enable this sort of access, however. Apple, for example, allows Apple Watch users to automatically unlock a computer running macOS Sierra.