Is Safari’s Strong Password Feature Necessary?

What’s the point of complicated passwords that are likely to be forgotten whenever there is no access to your iCloud Keychain?

“cydcik-9wYvvo…” My head is hurting just looking at this.

Before I start discussing (or rather ranting) about Safari’s suggested password feature, I’m aware that Safari isn’t the most popular browser for desktop as compared to Google Chrome.

I personally use Safari on my iPhone and alternate between Safari and Google Chrome on my MacBook because so many of my bookmarks and passwords are saved in Safari.

I’m not gonna go into which browser is better as that is a debate for another time, but I will say that Safari does have some pros and cons in its UX/UI. I appreciate Safari’s focus on privacy, but certain issues in efficiency and speed have caused me to use Google Chrome more often.

PROS of the strong password feature

This article is mostly a rant on what’s wrong with the strong password feature.. BUT I do have to briefly acknowledge the possible benefit(s) that can be taken out of this feature as there are users using this one way or another.

A strong password. Source: images.app.goo.gl/

Privacy & Security

You probably know this already but the major point of the feature is make sure you have a strong password that is harder to guess by a human or machine. People tend to name their passwords after things that may be familiar with or are special to them personally like a loved one’s/pet’s name, birth years etc. It is also rather common to have the same password for multiple accounts to remember them easily.

Although we all have probably admitted to taking these shortcuts to naming our passwords likely out of sheer laziness, it is not a good habit. As we are in the time of hackers, viruses and data breaches, our privacy and security on the web has become more important than ever to us. So a strong password given to you by AI may be your best bet if you are concerned with the possibility of a weak or predictable password.

CONS of the strong password feature

So besides enhancing the security of your passwords and accounts, there really isn’t any other other significant benefits to this feature. I’ll admit that as a user, I get annoyed whenever I see this popup whenever creating a new account. Plus the computer really has the audacity to automatically fill in the password without my permission. It’s kind of in your face and then you have to take the extra step and delete this crazy long password.

Source: steemit.com

User’s ability to recall password

So I DO love the AutoFill feature which helps remember all the information saved for my existing accounts. When the suggested password pops up it states, “The password will be saved to your iCloud Keychain and will AutoFill on all your devices.” Ok so that sounds quite appealing at first especially to the lazy or novice user who wants the easiest possible way to get the best of both worlds (a strong password that also AutoFills everytime).

But what if you are on another computer or even browser whether it’s at school or a friend’s laptop? Unless you remember that crazy long password or have it saved somewhere then you would be fine. But what if you are a lazy user like me who relies on the laptop (or rather iCloud Keychain) to remember passwords? Well that login process may be a little difficult now which could be frustrating especially if you have to pay a bill or do something that is urgent.

If iCloud Keychain/AutoFill fails on you

Also, this may not be relevant to all users out there but there are random times when a browser acts up and randomly forgets all your passwords when you login to your laptop. I’ve had that happen to me many times in the past. I even recall a horrible experience when I tried updating my Mac to a new software update but it crashed and I had to reboot and re-enter ALL my passwords again.

It is also sometimes recommended to reset your Safari browser’s settings to improve the speed, efficiency and solve some issues you may have experienced. However the downside of resetting Safari is that it removes cookies, saved passwords, and saved AutoFill information. These are all likely scenarios to be considered by every user. It is possible for passwords to be forgotten by the browser and if you don’t have them saved somewhere else, then you have to deal with the consequences of trying to retrieve/reset them.

Source: imgflig.com

It’s really just AI gibberish

We all know that Artifical Intelligence is smarter than us and perhaps this feature is mocking humans and their ability to create a strong and secure password. Humans do have the ability to create strong passwords without it being some crazy AI gibberish like, “cydcik-9wYvvo”. Thanks AI, but we can create passwords by ourselves.

Final Thoughts

Whether you use the strong password feature or not, it truly isn’t a bad idea in regard to its efforts made to encourage stronger passwords along with increased safety and privacy. But if you fail to recall, “cydcik-9wYvvo” as your laptop may have randomly forgot it, or if you go on another device or browser, then it may truly suck trying to retrieve that password. I mean it isn’t the end of the world for you as you can change your password and go through that annoying process to confirm your identity and other info. But why go through all that trouble when you could create a strong password that is easier to remember, rather than relying on some auto-generated gibberish that may fail on you one day.

Here’s more funny memes related to this questionable feature:

Source: me.me.com
Source: memezilla.com

This article was written in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Fall 2020 section of DMD 3035 — Interaction Design at the University of Connecticut, Digital Media & Design Department.

UConn ’22