Passkeys were never an Apple-only word, but the confusion is understandable

When Apple introduced passkeys, its implementation of FIDO Alliance’s password-less secure authentication technology, the company did it in the most Apple way possible. It made an icon and printed a very on Apple brand-looking “Passkeys” next to it, complete in the San Francisco font. And if you’ve watched only part of the WWDC presentation on Apple’s passkeys, it’s possible to assume passkeys are an exclusive feature of Apple’s iCloud Keychain. Just a reminder: it’s not.

The term “passkey” will also be used by major players Microsoft and Google. It’s used as a common noun and can be pluralized or singular, for instance: “you should set a passkey for your banking app.” In other words, treat the word “passkey” as you would treat the word “password”. Passkeys work by letting you log in to an app or website with just your username and your pre-authenticated device — which uses a cryptographic token instead of a password and text message code that could get phished or otherwise compromised.

Apple’s software engineering manager Ricky Mondello started a Twitter thread yesterday to promote the new technology and to clarify what it means. Microsoft’s VP of identity Alex Simons chimed in the thread and confirmed that Microsoft will also be adopting the name. All involved parties seem to be committed to spreading awareness of passkeys, and thus far none are trying to claim it as their own.

“Passkey” is certainly an easier to digest name compared to “FIDO authentication,” which could be really confusing when used verbally — like is this where I want to enter the name of my first pet? But seriously, if you’ve ever had to explain to the common person what two-factor authentication was, and it took longer than five minutes, imagine teaching them what FIDO authentication is.

In order for the technology to succeed, it needs that marketing push, and what better way to get the word out there than to let Apple take the helm. If Apple was really trying to trick people into thinking that passkeys are an Apple-only technology it probably would have been branded Apple PassKeys.

If you’re on the developer betas for macOS or iOS, you can start using passkeys now where available. Google plans to open the developer tools needed to implement passkeys on Android “towards the end of 2022”. And Microsoft currently supports passkeys on the web using Windows Hello, and will support logging into a MS account using passkeys from an iOS or Android device “in the near future”.

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Abandoned’s PS5 App Creates More Confusion and Frustration

A long-delayed app for the upcoming PS5 exclusive Abandoned is now live. The mysterious “real time experience” app only contains a short teaser trailer for the game, which has left curious fans even more confused.

Abandoned has a complicated history. The game was first announced through a PlayStation blog post, showing off the game’s environments. Following the post, some fans began spinning a conspiracy theory that the project was actually a new game from Hideo Kojima. That morphed into an unfounded, but widespread rumor that Abandoned was actually a Silent Hill revival. While developer Blue Box Game Studios attempted to distance itself from those rumors, gamers kept drawing connections and convincing themselves that the indie was a publicity stunt.

During the height of the speculation, Blue Box announced that it would reveal more about the game through a dedicated PS5 app. It was heavily delayed, fueling more rumors, but was scheduled to launch earlier this week. Last-minute bugs pushed the app’s launch to today. PS5 owners can now download the app and enter it, though it requires a 5GB update to download.

The Abandoned thing is live and yeah this seems about right

— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) August 13, 2021

The actual content of the app makes matters even more confusing. Upon opening it, users will see a list of boxes indicating future trailers and demos that will be housed within the app. However, the only one that’s currently available is an introductory teaser video. It features a roughly two-second teaser shot of somewhat walking on a wooden floor (which the developer had already shared on Twitter), followed by some text noting that a demo and trailer are coming soon.

For fans who were hoping the app would finally put months of speculation to bed, one way or another, the app is just another bizarre piece of the saga. It gives no new details about the project or really even shows what it actually looks like. There’s also the fact that the update to see the trailer takes upwards of 10 minutes to download, despite the fact that the teaser is only around 30 seconds long.

The app will, presumably, shed some more light on the game eventually. At the moment, however, players are expressing confusion and frustration across social media. All signs point towards Abandoned having no connection to Silent Hill, though there are more legitimate revival rumors for the franchise.

Editors’ Choice

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Tech News

Windows 11 update: TPM 2.0 and PC Health Check confusion

Microsoft revealed Windows 11 this week with a PC Health Check update and a confusing point of order. Some users are checking their high-powered Windows PC, finding that “this PC can’t run Windows 11” without significant explanation. One would expect that the PC Health Check system would tell the user the specific reasons WHY they do not meet requirements for Windows 11, but it doesn’t. Let’s take a peek at what’s likely the matter.

Your “PC health at a glance” appears with the PC Health Check app, available from Microsoft now. The basic requirements for Windows 11 use on a PC should be simple – it’s extremely likely that you’re using a machine that can run Windows 11 if it already runs Windows 10.

Windows 11 hardware requirements:
• Processor: 1GHz (or faster) with 2+ cores on 64-big processor or SoC
• 64GB storage space for install
• System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable
• Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0*
• Compatibility with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
• 9-inch+ HD Display (720p) with 8 bits per color channel or better

You can access a comprehensive processor list for AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm for Windows 11 now. This list also covers the bases for all versions of Windows back to Windows 10 1709 for all three processor brands, and back further for Intel and AMD.

*The most common hang-up point among average users right now seems to be TPM 2.0. If your computer’s firmware isn’t up-to-date, there’s a decent chance you have a version of TPM that’s earlier than 2.0 – or that your PC has no TPM enabled in the first place. Drop in on the Trusted Platform Module Technology Overview page in Microsoft’s Documentation collection to learn more about this tech.

You may need to update your firmware or enable fTPM and/or secure boot in BIOS. If you’ve never used BIOS on your PC before, you might want to get help from a friend who is familiar with slightly more intense information technology experience. That’s your friendly IT computer person, the person you know who you ask why your computer isn’t working, and their first response is always “have you tried turning it off and on again?” They’ll probably be able to guide you through this process on your unique machine.

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Intel Tries to Attack Apple, Hurts Itself in its Confusion

Intel has been on a rampage when it comes to attacking Apple recently, but like a lot of rampages, it seems to have done as much damage to itself as to Tim Cook and friends. Not content to sit on its snafu laurels, Intel has done it again with its latest attempt to throw shade on the Mac.

PCGamer reports that in a recent call with Ryan Shrout, Chief Performance Strategist at Intel, Shrout extolled the virtues of Intel chips when it comes to gaming. This is a familiar criticism of Macs, and a fair one at that (they suck at gaming), but Shrout apparently got a little carried away and did not realize he was essentially attacking his own company.

You see, Shrout produced a slide comparing the performance of an Intel i5-equipped laptop against that of a MacBook Pro 16. The problem? The MacBook in his comparison was kitted out with an Intel i9 chip. Oops.

But wait, you say, that is all irrelevant because GPUs are the true measure of gaming performance, not CPUs. And you would be right! Except that Shrout’s slide featured this prominent line: “11th Gen Core i5 H-series provides better gaming performance than most powerful MacBook Pro.” In other words, Intel wanted the comparison to focus on processors… which meant attacking its own handiwork.

This is hardly the first time Intel has embarrassed itself when trying to shame Apple’s latest chips. In April 2021 it produced an ad with the slogan “The world’s best processor on a thin and light laptop” that accidentally depicted a MacBook Pro. I’m sure Apple was flattered.

And before that, it hired “I’m a Mac” actor Justin Long to this time take aim at the Mac, yet shortly afterward Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said he hoped his firm would be able to manufacture Apple chips in the future. It’s an unconventional way to court a client, sure, but my word does it, erm, get results…

Intel and Apple used to be best buds, with Steve Jobs even going so far as to invite a bunny-suit-wearing Paul Otellini, then Intel CEO, onto the stage at Macworld Expo 2006. But ever since Apple announced it was ditching Intel chips and working on its own Mac processors, Intel has been on a sore streak. It is not surprising given how fantastically well Apple Silicon chips perform, but you would have thought Intel’s marketing division was a bit savvier than this. Apparently not.

Editors’ Choice

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