Google Authenticator Update Makes It Way Easier to Transfer Accounts to a New Device

Illustration for article titled Google Authenticator Update Makes It Way Easier to Transfer Accounts to a New Device
Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

The Google Authenticator has long been a useful tool when it comes to adding two-step verification to your accounts. But now, thanks to its first update since April 2019, Google has just made it way easier to securely migrate 2SV codes from one device to another.

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Alongside its new account transferring feature, the latest version of the Google Authenticator (version 5.10) includes an updated UI with an added optional dark theme and a new menu option to help you migrate your credentials to a new device.

Previously, any time you switched to a new phone or tablet, the Google Authenticator would force you to individually unlink saved accounts on your current device, before manually adding your accounts back into the Google Authenticator app on your new device. Even for people that don’t need to switch between multiple phones or tablets often, this was often tedious or confusing, and it quickly became a real chore for anyone juggling multiple devices.

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Here’s a GIF from Google showing the new account transfer process.
Gif: Google

However, in the new version of the Google Authenticator app, transferring 2SV codes from one device to another is as simple as selecting the export menu option on your original device (which displays a QR code on your screen), selecting import on your new device, and using your new device’s camera to scan in that QR code.

Additionally, to make sure the account transfer process is as secure as possible, Google says that when migrating your accounts to a new device, no data is sent to any outside servers (including Google servers) as communication happens directly between the two devices.

While the latest updates to the Google Authenticator are largely improvements to its ease of use, with digital security becoming a bigger concern every day, anything to help encourage people to enable two-step verification (which everyone should be using whenever possible) is a good thing.

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The new version of the Google Authenticator is rolling out now via the Google Play Store, so if you haven’t already received the update, it should hit your device sometime in the next week or so. The downside to all this is that at least for now, transferring accounts directly between devices using the Google Authenticator only works on Android. Sorry, iOS folks.

Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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DISCUSSION

I switched to Microsoft’s Authenticator last year so that I could have my 2FA backed up. It seemlessly handled all the websites/apps that I was using Google Authenticator for