Apple Offers Alternative to CAPTCHAS in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura

Posted on June 21, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Apple, Mobile with 2 Comments

The upcoming version of iOS and macOS will include a new feature to bypass CAPTCHAS, the annoying tests that some apps and websites use to verify that users are human. Apple detailed the new feature in a WWDC 2022 video (via MacRumors), and it’s already available on the first betas of iOS 16 where it’s called “Automatic Verification.”

In its video presentation, Apple explained that CAPTCHAs can cause websites or apps to lose customers discouraged by the poor user experience, and they can also be pretty hard to complete for users with disabilities. Apple also pointed out that some CAPTCHAs are also a source of privacy concerns as they can sometimes track users with their IP addresses.

To bypass CAPTCHAs, Automatic Verification uses iCloud accounts to automatically verify devices and users. The feature also relies on what Apple calls Private Access Tokens,” which servers will need to request to allow users to authenticate without compromising their identity or personal information.

Private Access Tokens use technology being standardized in the IETF Privacy Pass working group. Apple also worked with Fastly and Cloudflare to support Private Access Tokens, which will be a cross-platform solution.

The new Automatic verification feature will launch later this year on iOS 16 and macOS Ventura, but it could take some time before apps and websites add support for Private Access Tokens. It’s also not clear yet if Android or Windows will be leveraging the work from the IETF Privacy Pass working group to implement similar solutions.

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Comments (2)

2 responses to “Apple Offers Alternative to CAPTCHAS in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura”

  1. turnma

    For "Select each image with an animal", I'd struggle to know which ones to press. The third and fourth images are insects, so presumably I wouldn't press those, but I wonder if that's the intention or not. Similarly, the person (image 6) is an animal. I wonder how many people would pick 1/2/6, and whether that's actually the intended answer. I also wonder how international these will be. Regular image CAPTHCAS often suffer from being very US-focused, asking me to identify things that don't exist even in UK English (crosswalk, sidewalk, fire hydrant).

    • Brazbit

      Exactly what I was thinking. Likewise on the second one Choice 3 could be a bus... or an RV... maybe a UPS truck? Choice 7 looks like either a tour bus or a semi to me.

      As for what Apple is doing, it is basically just a self-signed certificate but with what passes for anonymity. Basically it is Apple saying that they already verified this user is human, let the user proceed. Of course it relies on the site trusting Apple, or more specifically the IETF, so your mileage may vary with each site you try it with until, or if, this becomes a defacto standard on the web.