Dev

Tim Bray, internet trailblazer, seeks to eliminate usernames and passwords

Tim Bray, the Googler most famous for his prior role in editing the XML language, has set his eyes on a new challenge: eradicating usernames and passwords, at least as we know them today, from the Internet.

Bray, who landed at Google in 2010 as an evangelist for the Android platform, announced Friday that he will be joining Google’s Identity group on July 1 to work on OAuth and OpenID, two standards for user authentication in web and mobile applications.

Inspired by his recent work on Google Play services (a soon-to-launch platform that offers app developers ways to integrate with Google products), Bray believes the current systems for user authentication are outdated and overly complex.

“Usernames and passwords generally suck and obviously don’t scale to the Internet, so we need to do away with them soonest,” Bray said of his latest fascination. “The new technology coming down the pipe, OAuth 2 and friends, is way too hard for developers; there need to be better tools and services if we’re going to make this whole Internet thing smoother and safer.”

What Bray will do to solve the username/password problems of today we don’t yet know (we asked, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back). Sure, some skeptics may posit that he’s simply working on a Facebook Open Graph-like system for Google services, but maybe there’s more to his new gig.

“No doubt in my mind that this is one of the big problems to be solved for the industry over the next decade,” tech pundit John Gruber wrote on his popular Daring Fireball blog. “Bray’s two-point bullet list is exactly right: the username/password solution is bad for users in numerous ways, but whatever eventually replaces it needs to be easy for developers.”

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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