Twitter has added a layer of security to its mobile app, giving users another tool with which to protect against account hijacking. The new two-factor authentication uses the Twitter app itself to authorize account access, rather than via text messaging — which not everyone trusts.
Two-factor authentication is where a service like Twitter or Facebook lets you approve access to your account by sending a message or code to your phone or another device. Some services use text to contact a user, while others use a dedicated app to verify logins.
Twitter, which rolled out text messaging (SMS)-based, two-factor authentication back in May, always had something a bit more robust in mind for the long term. It announced the change on its blog Tuesday, and said users only need to update their iOS or Android apps to have two-factor authentication in them.
Essentially, the new verification system skips over phone numbers and texts, instead using in-app notifications, which are instant and work internationally with no problems. Any attempted account login will show up with an approximate location and browser details so you know if it's your business partner or a scammer in a distant land.
Even if you lose your phone, you can still verify your account with another special code you can write down (imagine that) — and if you lose that, it's still possible to get access, assuming you're willing to jump through a few hoops.
Curious about the technical details? Head over to this Twitter engineer's post for a bit more info, as well as some animated .gifs.
The update also improves search results with a new gallery view (which will also appear for users' photos on iOS) and "social context" such as recent searches and associated tweets. The app should be available in the App Store and Google Play store now.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.