How iOS’s brilliant Security Code AutoFill came to be

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How iOS's brilliant Security Code AutoFill came to be
Who didn't smile when they saw this feature in action for the first time?
Photo: Apple

iOS’s Security Code AutoFill is one of those useful features that just delights you whenever you see it in operation. Autofilling security code verification boxes with the codes you receive in texts from places like banks, it’s a brilliantly innovative concept.

This weekend, an Apple engineer took to Twitter to share some information on its origins.

Security Code AutoFill grew out of a bigger project

Ricky Mondello, who works on authentication at Apple, responded to a tweet praising the feature.

“The idea for Security Code AutoFill came out of a small group of software engineers working on what we thought was a much more ambitious project,” Mondello wrote.

“It wasn’t a [project manager], it wasn’t just one person, and it wasn’t what we set out to do initially. It started as a small side idea we had while designing something very different.

We jotted it down, tabled it for weeks, and then picked it up after the ‘more ambitious’ project wasn’t panning out. It was hard, but I’m so glad we changed focus.”

Mondello continues that, “the team combined expertise from several areas to ship magic that worked on day 1.” It also works without app and website developers having to implement code, and without sharing details of users’ text messages. That brings it in line with Apple’s longtime philosophy surrounding privacy and simplicity. “This still inspires me!”

In response to users saying that Android had the feature first, Mondello disagrees. “Nah. Details matter,” they write. “Privacy matters. And clipboard != AutoFill.”

Apple engineers share (some of) their secrets

I’ll never get bored of hearing Apple engineers talk about the origins of nifty features — whether it’s this, text selection or the one button mouse. It makes you appreciate just how much thought goes into the things we often take for granted.

There’s some other good news, too. According to Ricky Mondello’s Twitter, their team is currently hiring. If you want to be part of coming up with the Security Code AutoFill of the future, this could be your chance!