One of the many features that Oreo brought to Android includes support for the Autofill API. If you've ever used the autofill feature with websites on Android, you are familiar with how it works. With Oreo, that feature is extended to apps. This means you can have the system autofill passwords in the apps you use. With this feature, Android will store credentials for apps, so you don't have to remember them every time.
Out of the box, this feature makes use of the Google password storage service. However, there are better options for the storage of your passwords, these options can add an extra layer of security and make autofill an option even for those who are concerned with security. One such option is LastPass. LastPass is a password manager that integrates with Android autofill and should be considered over the Google default as it is a more secure option. I'm going to show you how to make this so.
This process will require an Android device running Oreo (Android 8). The feature actually supports more than just LastPass. In fact, you can choose from one of these password managers:
As I'm a LastPass user, I'll demonstrate with that option. Do note that LastPass support for autofill is still in beta, so it's not perfect. If you're not a LastPass user, you might want to go with either Dashlane or Enpass, as their support is out of beta. The steps for each of these are (for the most part) the same.
The first thing you must do is install LastPass, if it is not already installed. To install this password manager, follow these steps:
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
- Search for LastPass
- Locate and tap the entry by LogMeIn, Inc.
- Tap Install
- Allow the installation to complete
Once it is installed, go through the steps to create a LastPass account to complete the process. With LastPass installed, you're ready to enable it as the storage mechanism for your Android autofill passwords.
Enabling LastPass for autofill
To use the autofill feature with LastPass, or whichever option you use, all you have to do is enable it within the Accessibility window. To do this, open up Settings and search for Accessibility. Tap on that entry and then tap LastPass. In the resulting window (Figure A), tap the ON/OFF slider so it is enabled and then when prompted tap OK.
That's it. At this point, the first time you attempt to log into any app you will be prompted if you want to add the login, so that LastPass can autofill the credentials the next time you attempt to log in. You can either enable that login for autofill or not. If you opt to add the login, you will be taken to the LastPass app, where you can enter the details for the login. Once you've created the entry in LastPass, the next time you attempt to log into that app, you will be presented with a listing of matching logins. Tap the correct account to have LastPass fill in the authentication credentials. LastPass will then require you to enter your master password, or use the fingerprint scanner—depending on how you've setup LastPass, before it will autofill your credentials.
And that, my friends, is the primary reason why you want to make use of LastPass (or one of the other third-party apps) for autofill on Android—because it will require you to authenticate against the service, before it will autofill your apps.
Other third party app setup
LastPass support for autofill is currently in beta—this means you'll probably run into problems. If that's an issue for you, install one of the other third-party apps, such as Enpass. If you do this, you'll need to take care of another step to enable this app for autofill. Do the following:
- Open Settings
- Search for and tap Languages & input
- Tap Autofill service
- Tap to enable Autofill with Enpass (Figure B)
You should see LastPass listed for autofill. However, since support for this is in beta, I am assuming it's absence can be chalked up as a bug. This missing entry could also be chalked up to the fact that LastPass enables autofill from within the app itself. Even without its appearance in the autofill services, LastPass does still work quite well for autofill.
A bit confusing at first
Because the autofill feature is very much new, the processes for setting it up aren't always precise. I would expect things to evolve fairly quickly as more third-party apps add the AutoFill API to their services. If autofill is a feature you want to make use of, I highly recommend you make use of one of these third-party apps. You'll find they offer an added level of security to the feature that will do a much better job of protecting your credentials.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.