Microsoft Authenticator gains watch app

Microsoft today launched its popular Authenticator iOS app on Apple Watch. It permits owners of Apple’s wearable device to approve log-in requests securely for Microsoft websites and services, no phone required.

A public preview of Authenticator’s companion app for Apple Watch released a few weeks ago. The watchOS component launched this morning as an update to the existing iOS app.

Download Microsoft Authenticator 6.0+ to your iPhone, then install Authenticator’s watchOS app through the companion Watch app on your paired iPhone. This will let you approve sign-in notifications that require PIN or biometric on your Apple Watch, no need to use your phone.

The software supports Microsoft personal, work and school accounts that are set up with push notifications. All supported accounts automatically sync to your Apple Watch. Be sure that your phone and watch are paired, then open the Authenticator app on the watch.

You may be required to tap the Set up button to initialize the app. Approving sign-in notifications from your wrist couldn’t be easier. To see it in action, try signing in to your Microsoft Account protected with two-step verification.

When a notification hits your wrist, you can quickly authorize it from the watch itself by tapping the Approve button. The streamlined process cancels the need to type in a six-digit code. Microsoft considers this watch experience as true two-step verification.

“The first factor is your possession of the watch,” the company explains. “The second factor is the PIN that only you know. When you put the Watch on your wrist in the morning, you will need to unlock it. As long as you don’t remove the Watch from your wrist and it stays within range of your phone, it will stay unlocked—so you don’t need to provide your PIN again.”

For more info, read Authenticator’s FAQ.

Download Microsoft Authenticator for free from App Store.

Other two-factor authentication apps are available on both iPhone and Apple Watch, like the excellent Authy app I’ve been using for years and 1Password, which includes a watchOS component and the ability to generate two-factor authentication codes.