Google Authenticator is widely regarded as the first choice for generating two-step verification codes. However, limited updates and missing features have left many of its users searching for an alternative. Let’s take a look at some of the best alternatives to Google authenticator for securing your online accounts.
1. Lastpass Authenticator (Android / iOS)
Separate from its popular password manager, LastPass’s Authenticator app is a solid 2FA choice, especially for anyone already entrenched in the LastPass world. TOTP compliant, the app is available for all apps and websites that similarly support Google Authenticator. That means managing all of your services directly from your Android or iPhone/iPad is a breeze.
Push notification-based verification is a helpful differentiator and already supports popular services like Amazon, Evernote, Dropbox, Facebook and more. Downloading the app itself is free. Logging in uses your existing LastPass username and password or set one up to start from scratch. SMS and QR code are also present giving LastPass Authenticator a rich and deep feature set that makes it a strong alternative to Google’s own offering.
2. Authy (Android / iOS)
When it comes to Google Authenticator alternatives, Authy (iOS / Android) is definitely one of the more prominent names. You can add an account by scanning a QR code or entering a code manually. All your codes are backed up securely to the cloud and are protected via password or face/fingerprint unlock. This ensures that even if you lose your smartphone, your data is secure. Owners of multiple devices will also love that Authy adds multi-device sync, so adding codes to a tablet will sync right back to a smartphone and vice versa.
Best of all, Authy can generate secure tokens that can be used offline. If you ever find yourself in Airplane mode, you’ll still have total access to all of your 2FA secured accounts. Last, but certainly not least, Authy adds a whole new level of functionality by protecting your Cryptocurrency as the default 2FA provider for services like Coinbase, BitGo and more.
3. 2FA Authenticator (Android / iOS)
Another popular free Google Authenticator alternative, 2FA Authenticator (iOS / Android), is a simple app with an easy-to-use interface that gets out of your way. Similar to Authy, adding apps is handled via QR code or by entering a secret key manually. Access to the app is handled via fingerprint (Touch ID) or through Face ID, making it secure and inaccessible if your phone is ever lost or stolen. Once you begin with 2FA Authenticator, you can set up an online account and sync across multiple devices, so any saved passwords on a tablet are passed back to an Android or iOS smartphone.
All codes are stored locally, but the software developers have already released a cloud solution for iOS and are gearing up for a release on Android. Whereas other apps like to add features like Bitcoin security, 2FA Authenticator wants to keep things simple and easy and focus solely on securing your online accounts.
4. Duo Mobile (Android / iOS)
Duo Mobile (iOS / Android) from Cisco is another app that makes it easy to authenticate login requests on your online accounts. It offers a differentiating feature called “Duo push” that allows you to receive login requests on your phone and make a single tap to authenticate it. If you receive a request that you aren’t expecting, you can also deny the request and report it as fraudulent. In addition, you can deny a request without marking it as fraudulent.
Duo also supports fingerprint protection for users running both Android and iOS enabled smartphones or tablets for securing all of your passwords. If you are ever offline, you can still authenticate your accounts using passcodes which are generated even without an Internet connection. While the rest of the apps on this list are geared for personal use, Duo, owned by Cisco, has a wealth of security protections that make it ideal for securing a small business or enterprise-level accounts.
5. Microsoft Authenticator (Android / iOS)
Backed by the Microsoft name, Microsoft Authenticator (iOS / Android) has quickly become a strong rival to Google Authenticator. This beautifully laid out app ensures that you can quickly access all of your online accounts with one-time passwords. In fact, with Microsoft accounts, the app takes an additional step and removes the need to enter a password, enabling you to just add your username and confirm the sign-in with your smartphone. That’s good for Microsoft account apps like OneDrive, Outlook, Office and more.
An added bonus is that the app can even autofill passwords for you. Inside the app, on the Password tab, you can sync passwords, including those that are saved in Microsoft Edge. This dual-purpose allows Authenticator to lay claim to being one of the most feature-rich competitors to Google Authenticator. Like Duo Mobile, Authenticator is also ideal for work or school environments, though it likely needs to be registered as part of any organization so that it can be added to the list of trusted devices.
6. Step Two (iOS)
Modern, intuitive and moderately priced, Step Two for iPhone and iPad is a simple 2FA solution. With iCloud backup, all of your two-step codes are available across all of your devices – including Apple Watch. An additional Safari extension ensures that you can sign into Safari on either the iPhone or iPad with ease.
If an online account supports time-based one-time passwords (TOTP) for 2FA, Step Two works. The app initially limits users to a total of 10 one-time passwords, but a one-time $9.99 in-app purchase removes that restriction and syncs with the available Mac app as well.
7. Aegis Authenticator (Android)
Whereas most 2FA apps are available on both Android and iOS, Aegis Authenticator is an Android-only option. However, what it lacks in cross-platform capabilities, it more than makes up for with simple features, a free price tag and an easy-to-use interface. It comes with multiple layers of protection, including a top-layer password to access the app. In the event someone did have your password and could access the vault file that holds one-time passwords, they would still be unable to access the file due to heavy encryption. In other words, Android users should feel safe and protected with Aegis Authenticator.
Another plus for Aegis is that as you add more and more one-time passwords, the app allows for custom icons to be associated with each entry so that they are easy to locate and identify. It’s a small but essential added value that helps differentiate Aegis from many of its 2FA competition. Last, but not least, is the peace of mind that comes with automatic backups, so you never lose your data, even if you lose your device.
8. Apple Two-Factor Authentication
With the introduction of iOS 15 and macOS Monterey, Apple has introduced its own two-factor authentication solution. Best of all, it’s totally free. To be clear, this is not the same as the 2FA solution required for your Apple ID, instead – this is a similar service to Google Authenticator.
As you may expect, the process is seamless and integrates directly with the operating system, so everything is baked directly into Safari. It’s not as feature-rich or even as aesthetically pleasing as an option like Step Two and is not as enjoyable to use if you choose a third-party browser as your default. Once it’s active and you have scanned a website’s QR code to pull it into he phone, you’ll be able to receive authentication codes via text or automated phone call.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How is a two-factor authentication app different from a security key?
For one, a universal security key is a physical item – like the Yubikey or Google Titan, that requires plugging into a USB port to authenticate logins. They can be slightly more troubleshoot to use than a 2FA app, but these keys are waterproof, dust resistant, crush-proof, and more importantly, more secure than the software tool.
2. Should I trust Apple’s built-in more than third-party alternatives?
If all your tech devices are Apple products, then you can just use Apple built-in 2FA tool. If you are concerned about cross platform compatibility, then any of the tools listed above (other than Apple’s) will be more suitable for you. All of them are equally good and secure and it is down to your preferences which one to use.
3. How susceptible are these services to hacking?
That’s really the million-dollar question, isn’t it? None of these services can provide a 100% guarantee that they will always be free from evildoers. That said, 2FA app hacking is not a frequent occurrence, and millions of users around the globe use all of the apps daily without issue. The likelihood that someone will be more vulnerable without using 2FA whatsoever is a far bigger security concern.
Image credit: 2-step authentication by 123rf.com
Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox