FIDO and Chromebook follow up

Glen Tomkowiak
Sep 7 · 3 min read

Original post: Fido U2F

I ended up switching to a Yubikey after all. Feitian keys are a nice cheaper option but there were just too many important websites that wouldn’t support them. That said, there have been some interesting developments with FIDO. Android phones now have built-in security keys that serve as a nice backup key for a hardware key. It still makes sense to have a physical key because an alternate two factor method will be required to set up your account when you eventually change phones.

The Android key also appears to have some reliability issues and depends on network connectivity. I have experienced random times where the prompt never appeared or did appear but errored out with a vague unhelpful network error.

Android devices are also not the only devices with built in keys. I was able to use Windows Hello as a FIDO U2F second factor with DropBox. Most other services still require you to use a non-FIDO two factor method as a backup so there isn’t much sense in purchasing two FIDO keys. The progress with FIDO is a bit frustrating and slow moving but it is starting to take off.

Original post: Chromebook

What I like:

  • Coding in the Linux container is very nice. It will be near perfect once they enable GPUs and microphones.
  • The Linux feature is well implemented and clearly targeted toward people who want to code but still have a simple computer. I hope it stays this way and doesn’t try to be a 3rd option for non-development applications.
  • Android apps allow you to do a few things that PWAs simply can’t do or no one has bothered to make them do.
  • Progressive web apps are very fast, work better then expected offline, and feel like proper desktop applications.
  • Virtually zero maintenance.
  • All of your data is in the cloud, almost no worries about losing anything.
  • Fast, cheap and secure!

What I do not like:

Android apps are a bit of a mess

  • They open slightly slower after boot (maybe some lag starting up the separate system).
  • Developers don’t seem to care about larger screens and most likely never will.
  • Why are settings separate from Chrome OS settings? Just merge them please!
  • Having a separate file system makes sense for Linux but not Android. More effort needs to be put into merging user facing folders. Movies, Music and Pictures should just work the same way Downloads do. It would then be 100% OK to keep the other Android directories separate and just hide them unless someone needs to unhide them via the options menu.
  • Duplicate apps start to appear if you need something an Android application depends on. Example: Google Drive
  • PWA always just work better from my experience. They are more responsive on a touch screen too. No idea why this is but I am willing to give up some minor features for a better app.
  • Why is the back button in the upper left corner of every app? There has to be a better way to do this.
  • Why is resizing an application’s window so glitchy? Apps designed for Chrome OS seem to look quite ugly when I resize them something but not all the time, which just looks bad.
  • Why do some applications leave behind splash screen activities?
  • Separate app stores are annoying, Chrome OS would benefit from one app store for PWAs, extensions, and Android apps. The app store should also steer a user to the ideal version of the application if a PWA or Android app both exist. The average Chromebook user wants a simple no hassle computer. So why not help them make the right decision for what they are trying to? I get not restricting users, but it should be obvious if an application is not optimised for Chrome OS. This would at least set expectations correctly.

Chrome OS is a good alternative to MacOS and Windows but there is still work to be done. Android integration needs the most work. I am glad it exists but some simple tweaks would go a long way.

Glen Tomkowiak

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Things that interest me: cloud computing, cyber security, DevOps, and mobile / web development. Posts are my own.

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