Google Authenticator has received an update that should make it more useful for individuals who use the service frequently to sign in to apps and websites.
Google Authenticator will now sync any one-time two-factor authentication tokens it creates to users’ Google Accounts as of today.
“We released Google Authenticator in 2010 as a free and easy way for sites to add ‘something you have’ 2FA that bolsters user security when signing in,” Brand wrote in the blog post announcing today’s change.
“With this update we’re rolling out a solution to this problem, making one time codes more durable by storing them safely in users’ Google Account.”
Previously, one-time Authenticator codes were saved locally, on a single device, which meant that losing that device typically meant losing the ability to sign in to any service that had been configured with Authenticator’s 2FA.
Simply upgrade the Authenticator app to take use of the new sync capability. If you use Google Authenticator while signing in to a Google Account, your codes will be automatically backed up and restored on any new device you use.
However, Google hasn’t always been forthcoming about Authenticator’s development plans.
The app started out as an open-source effort, but it eventually became proprietary; the official open-source forks of the Android, iOS, and BlackBerry apps haven’t been updated in years.
You may also manually transfer your codes to another device even if you don’t have a Google Account by following the instructions on this support page.