Google's creepy password-killing Project Abacus will be tested by banks this summer

Instead of typing a password or PIN, Google's Project Abacus analyzes how you use your phone to automatically log you in.

Sean Hollister
Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Watch this: Google wants to kill passwords with a 'trust score'

Google's plan to kill the password is moving forward. Project Abacus, an ambitious plan to replace passwords with a comprehensive analysis of the way you use your phone, will begin trials with "several large financial institutions" next month, the company said Friday at its Google I/O developer conference.

"Assuming it goes well, this should go out to every Android developer by the end of the year," said Dan Kaufman, head of Google's ATAP (Advanced Technologies and Projects) division, where the Project Abacus idea was incubated.

Google didn't offer further comment.

Originally announced at Google I/O last year, Project Abacus stems from the idea that while humans are not very good at remembering passwords, they are quite good at simply being themselves. So instead of asking for a specific password, Abacus analyzes how you type, how you speak, and combined with other signals from the sensors in your phone, calculates the probability that you are who you say you are.

That probability will be known as a "Trust Score," and a new "Trust Score API" is what Google hopes to put in developers' hands by the end of the year. It will be up to those developers to decide if Google's method is reliably secure enough to replace traditional password, PIN and fingerprint log-ins.

Here's Google's explanation of Project Abacus from last year: