Google Authenticator is a useful app for keeping track of your two-factor authentication (2FA) keys, but it’s by no means the only one. If you feel it lacks a few key features, or you want something more open-source, there are other authenticators available to suit your needs.
Let’s take a look at some Google Authenticator alternatives, and why you might want one to begin with.
Why Replace Google Authenticator?
Google has tried to dip a toe into niches such as social media and gaming, with the latter getting a less-than-stellar score in our Google Stadia review.
Google Authenticator, on the other hand, has over 10 million downloads to date, making it one of the most popular 2FA authenticators for Android.
While it is popular, it’s not perfect. Google Authenticator doesn’t ask you to verify your identity when you open the app. It also doesn’t hide the codes away when you open the app: every code is visible from the get-go. This makes it dangerous if someone gets a hold of your unlocked phone, as they can mess with your codes without issue.
Google Authenticator also doesn’t have any backup or phone transfer features. You can tell this is a problem by looking through some of the negative reviews for the app.
Some people have lost their phones and were locked out of their accounts. Others want to transfer the authenticator over to a new phone, only to find that Google Authenticator doesn’t support this.
As you can see, there’s plenty of reason to look for a Google Authenticator alternative. So, let’s break down five of the best, and how they improve upon Google’s formula.
Authy has positioned itself as a top rival to Google Authenticator. Right off the bat, it offers to back up all of your saved accounts, in case you have to wipe the phone or change phones. It does this by encrypting the information and storing it in the cloud.
Authy also distinguishes itself by offering a desktop app, as well as the smartphone version. This means you don’t need to be continuously tied to your phone for codes; instead, you can get your codes directly from your desktop. This is even more useful if you don’t have a smartphone or tablet.
It offers passcode protection, so no-one can just casually access your codes. As such, if someone gets hold of your unlocked phone, they still have the app’s passcode protection to break into before they can see your 2FA codes.
Blacking out any screenshots taken means Authy can stop malicious agents from snapping images of your codes. This may seem like overkill, but as we covered in our ways to protect yourself against keyloggers, malware can take snapshots of your screen to read your data.
Authy describes its aim as finding a solution to “a complex problem—killing passwords.” Whether that will happen or not, nobody knows. As for the case of Authy vs. Google Authenticator, however, Authy is a clear winner.
2. HENNGE OTP
HENNGE OTP also offers its users passcode protection to prevent casual snooping The app is compatible with all of the popular services—Google, Facebook, Amazon Web Services, Dropbox, Evernote, and WordPress, to name a few.
The only limitation to this app though is that it is only available for iOS, so Android users are out of luck. If you are an iOS user and want something simple without many bells and whistles, it’s worth trying this app for yourself.
3. Sound Login Authenticator
If you want to try something a little more unique, why not log in through sound? No more typing in those pesky codes; just have your phone make a noise, and you’re all signed in.
As is evident by the name of the app, this app relies on sound to generate the one-time codes. It takes a bit of initial setup; you need the app on your phone and the browser extension (Chrome, Firefox, or Opera). Your PC should also have a microphone (we’re dealing with audio, remember?).
When you want to log in, you point your phone to the PC microphone and tap the account on the smartphone screen that you want to access. The app will give off a short ringtone, which transmits the temporary code to the browser extension. This pre-fills the code into the website you’re trying to log into.
As such, this removes the need to quickly type in a 2FA code under a time limit. If you’re a slow typist and need something more comfortable than entering a six-digit code, you may find reprieve with Sound Login.
If you’re a privacy advocate, you won’t want to touch any 2FA token generator that isn’t open-source. Fortunately, there are apps out there that respect your privacy and use an open-source base, so you can feel confident that companies aren’t harvesting your data.
FreeOTP is developed by Red Hat, an open-source developer that appeared in 1993. You can quickly add a generator with the QR code scanner, or enter your details manually. The app is very lightweight and straightforward, making FreeOTP a fantastic choice if you want a token generator you can trust and nothing more.
If you like the idea of an open-source token generator, but you don’t like FreeOTP’s lack of features, try andOTP instead. It keeps the trustworthy open-source base but adds a heap of useful features on top.
For instance, andOTP can backup your code generators on a server, with different levels of encryption available. You can change the theme if you’re a fan of dark mode. You can lock andOTP behind a password or a PIN code, meaning someone who picks up your phone doesn’t have access to all your codes without being challenged.
Finally, the app has the aptly-named “panic trigger.” If you think your phone is compromised, you can send the app a panic trigger. You can choose what the app does with this trigger; it can either wipe every account, reset the app to default settings, or both.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing, andOTP is only available for Android. As such, iOS users who want an open-source solution can stick with FreeOTP for the time being.
Choosing Powerful Alternatives to Google
Google Authenticator has a huge number of downloads, but it’s by no means the best. If you’re looking for password-secured app access, backups, and open-source code, you’ll have better luck with the best Google Authenticator alternatives available.
If you’re ready to cut the cord completely, be sure to check out the alternatives to Google Search, News, Docs, and more.