Apple may be looking to upgrade Safari with a 1Password-like functionality. The service is known to provide browser plug-ins and apps for a variety of platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Whenever a user needs to log in, the service generates unique, strong passwords, which are kept under a master password in a keychain. Once authorized, 1Password automatically fills in both user names and passwords when necessary, with no need to remember sophisticated passwords created for maximum protection.
One of the most noticeable changes in developer builds of Safari 5.2 has been the addition of a new “Passwords” pane to the app’s preferences. With this, users are able to access user names and passwords stored in the browser to a range of sites and services. The new pane allows users to more conveniently view passwords, which have been already stored and can be accessed via the dedicated Keychain Access app. However, text strings from the last few Safari 5.2 builds suggest the browser may get more extensive password functionality, including an ability to generate unique passwords rather than simply remember and suggest the user-created ones.
With Mountain Lion relying on iCloud to keep user content synced across multiple devices, one can speculate Apple is planning to embed this password functionality in iOS and iCloud as well. The move would enable customers to use unique passwords created on one device on other units without the need to copy and paste or manually record password information.
The company has already announced its plans to use iCloud for integrating browser activity across iOS devices, as suggested by the addition of the tab syncing option to Safari builds. Although keychain syncing across devices was previously available with .Mac and MobileMe, Apple axed the feature once it switched to iCloud. The functionality now seems to have been discontinued while the company worked to expand and revamp it.
Apple has also revealed its intention to enhance the Safari syncing features with the iCloud preference pane in System Preferences under the upcoming OS X Mountain Lion. While the company has titled the Safari section “Bookmarks” under the previous OS X version, it has been simply renamed “Safari” with the introduction of browser tab and possibly new user name and password syncing. Although all pieces seem to be in place for unique password creation and syncing across platforms through iCloud, the feature has made its way neither to the developer previews of Mountain Lion nor to iOS builds.