A revelation becomes hidden again
The Google Authenticator app is an essential security tool for many people, even as several alternatives currently exist in the market. In May this year, Google introduced the relatively minor “Click to reveal PIN” feature, which hides all two-factor authentication codes from view, allowing users to reveal only the codes they want to use. It seemed like a fairly innocuous inclusion, considering that 2FA codes change every 30 seconds anyway. But Google apparently doesn’t see it that way, as the feature has disappeared from the Authenticator app following an update last week.
This removal is part of the Google Authenticator version 5.20R4 update (available via APK Mirror), which doesn’t contain any other notable additions, 9to5Google reports. As per the release notes on the app’s Play Store listing, it includes device encryption for the “storage of secret values.”
The only use case for the tap-to-reveal PIN feature is for situations when you have strangers around you, like in a crowded subway. But as we’ve touched on above, with codes changing frequently, hiding them was never really a major advantage. Google didn’t say why it reversed course on this particular feature, though we hope an explanation is forthcoming. There’s also always the chance that it could come back with or without changes.
The latest update to Google’s authentication app began rolling out on July 14, so it’s probably live on your device already if you’ve got auto-update enabled. Notably, the May 2022 update which brought it to version 5.20R2 and introduced the ability to hide 2FA codes was the app’s first in two years, so updates have been few and far between. But with the pace of these updates revisional updates coming in spurts, we may see things change right before our eyes and faster than we’d think.