Twitter's first developer conference in four years, Flight, is in full swing and we're already seeing some announcements out of San Francisco. Perhaps one of the most interesting is Digits, Twitter's plan to replace the password with a user's mobile phone number.
Digits is a well-timed providing, because the world of messaging apps has exploded following the excessive-profile acquisition deal of Facebook shopping for Whatsapp, and the bigger development towards easier, and even nameless messaging, in addition to "ephemeral" messaging, reminiscent of that offered by Snapchat.
How it works?
Digits provides the initial login screen that appears to users, the screen where users type in their phone number, and it then handles sending the SMS confirmation code. In the end, it's a 2-step process for users.
This process makes more sense on mobile, not only because a username and password combination is something that's a bit of holdover from the days where web was king, but also because in many parts of the world and especially developing regions where smartphones are people's only "computer" - many users don't have email addresses to use as their "username" or logon ID. But they do have a phone number.
Digits would effectively eliminate the need of having to remember a username and password as well as having to deal with CAPTCHAs. What's more, it could result in a safer overall environment when you consider people often use the same password for multiple services and the strength of said passwords are sometimes comical at best.
To do this securely, Digits uses SMS to control who accesses your account and safeguard it from attackers by using Twitter's infrastructure, at point of login the apps will verify the users phone number with an SMS-based confirmation code, which is similar to the two-step verification process, but geared towards the mobile.
The Digits tool will launch today in around 200 countries with support for around 28 languages.