What is it?
This is a solution found in Discord. When users attempt to log in, they are shown a prominent option for passwordless login, by capturing a QR Code with their phones (through the Discord app or via the native camera)
How does this interaction or solution work?
Discord is a free voice and chat application that allows you to create and join chat rooms or "servers" via a computer or smartphone. Discord is the most popular chat app for gamers and one of the most popular options for other large fanbases and communities.
Since Discord has a vibrant ecosystem of applications for different operating systems, it has also invested in creating a solid authentication layer.
One of the most interesting features in their authentication system is the ability to login to the web or desktop apps by using a phone with the app installed.
Many application developers have used this solution in Smart TVs, but it's rarely used in other platforms.
In the case of Discord, you can authenticate on a web browser or other non-phone app by reading a QR code that is prominently displayed next to the classic login mechanism.
When reading the QR code with the native camera, the Discord app gets launched through a deep-link that handles the handshake and authenticates the user on the other device. Users can also open the Discord app and scan the QR code directly from it by using the "Scan QR Code" option in the settings menu.
How does it help the user or improve the experience?
Reducing Friction, Reducing Cognitive Load.
Nowadays, it's impossible not to deal with hundreds of digital services in a single week. From Slack to Netflix, from Google to Amazon, absolutely every digital service that we interact with needs some way to identify us to provide their value. But remembering passwords and creating accounts is becoming a tiring activity that can cognitively overload us.
On the other hand, smartphones have become a ubiquitous tool for human beings in developed countries. More importantly, the cameras on those smartphones have become an essential sensor to interact with the world beyond their baseline capability.
Discord acknowledges these trends and provides a seamless way to log in without a password into their platform. Not only this reduced cognitive load on the user's end, but it also increases the chances of usage for an occasional user that might get discouraged once they realize they need through a password reset process.
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