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Android P Enhances Support for Autofill in Chrome and Other Browsers

  |  Stan Kocken

Yesterday, Google previewed Android P—the upcoming version of Android—to Android developers. This preview allows developers to explore the new features and begin envisioning experiences to build when Android P becomes officially available to the public later this year. While many Android blogs will talk exclusively about new features, I want to focus on one of the feature enhancements I like the most: Autofill within browsers.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Autofill feature introduced in Android O, read my previous blog post describing how Dashlane utilizes Android’s Accessibility Service to allow for Dashlane to autofill in Google Chrome and other mobile browsers.

With Android P, Dashlane will no longer have to use this workaround—a far better user experience and something I’m very excited about.

What changed? The limitations associated with Autofill on Android O have been upgraded for Android P. Let’s take a deeper look.

Understanding the Limitations of Autofill in Android O

While the market adoption of Android O is 1.1% globally, Dashlane users on Android have adopted Android O at a rate of 16% (as of February 2018) and can use Autofill on Chrome and other mobile browsers because of the workaround we developed involving the use of Android’s Accessibility Service.

Many users wonder why we can’t simply utilize the built-in Android O Autofill feature.

The reason is that Chrome (like Microsoft Edge, Samsung Browser or Firefox, for example) uses a custom render for the web pages you view. This custom render allows high-performance but prevents the Autofill Engine embedded in Android O from telling identity managers (like Dashlane) certain information, like when the page changes.

This disconnect means that users must take additional steps in order to experience Autofill on Chrome and other mobile browsers by manually enabling Accessibility Service—which isn’t very user friendly.

Note: This is not the case with some lightweight mobile browsers, like Firefox Focus, because they are using a native web display component (called WebView). In those cases, it is possible for us to utilize the Autofill feature for the credentials and payment information stored in Dashlane. 

How the Autofill Experience Has Been Improved for Android P and Dashlane Users

With Android P, Android is eliminating the manual process of enabling Accessibility Service by making Accessibility Service enabled by default. That means Dashlane users will be able to enjoy the benefits of Autofill in Chrome and other mobile browsers automatically. On top of that, Dashlane’s CPU usage on your device will be drastically reduced.

In fact, we just finished a prototype of this feature for Android P, giving you Autofill within Google Chrome without having to enable the Accessibility Service.

Android P autofill with Dashlane

Demo of Autofill within Google Chrome Beta on Android P

This will most likely also work with the other mobile browsers we currently support with our In-App Bubble: Microsoft Edge and Samsung Browser. We would love to bring this support into Firefox as well, but as of today it is not possible for us to access the web page on this browser.

[You may remember that policy changes were made to Google’s Accessibility Service last fall. Even though we are not affected by the policy changes made to Accessibility Service, we plan to remove the manual experience of enabling Accessibility Service from our application for all Dashlane users that update to Android P and beyond, as it will no longer be necessary. Those using Android O or previous Android versions will still be able to manually enable Accessibility Service to get the most out of Dashlane.]

When Will This Be Available for Dashlane Users?

Unless Google decides to make this feature retro-compatible with Android O, this feature will be available only on Android P. So, you need your device to run this latest version of Android. The first devices equipped with Android P will ship in Q3 2018. But if you’re a developer you can install the preview version early.

Given the current calendar for Android, we will be allowed to release a version compatible with Android P in June 2018. This is our target to allow any of our users running Android P to be able to benefit from this feature.

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