OpenID and mobile apps? Anyone? Bueller?

I first found out about OpenID through Basecamp as it accepts this relatively new authentication method, as do all of 37signals other properties (Backpack, Highrise, Campfire, etc.). Now, this is a fantastic system if you are working on a variety of computers, across different platforms, and/or if you just don’t want to keep track of every single user/pass combo you have. Of course, one of the greatest benefits of the OpenID method is the security aspect: no longer will you need to deliver a litany of account details just to sign up for a new service or site.

So, for months I flew along in love with this new system. And with Basecamp, Backpack, and Highrise, there’s a handy little 37signals bar (aptly dubbed the “Open Bar“) at the top of each of those respective pages if you’re logged into them all with OpenID.

And then a couple of weeks ago, everything came to a screeching halt. I have been working very hard to find mobile tools for all of the various applications I use on a regular basis, allowing me to work on planes, trains and automobiles, or wherever I might be without my computer. Lots of traveling lately, and also lots of time out of the office handling baby appointments, doctors’ visits, etc. But here’s the dilemma: none of these mobile applications support OpenID. And, if you have OpenID turned on as your authentication method, you no longer have a traditional user/pass combo with the site in question.

So, because I use Backpack Mobile edition, I can’t use OpenID. I hate having to choose, but there’s really no debate. If it’s mobile vs. OpenID, mobile wins every time. Unfortunately. I’m not sure whether it’s out of laziness that developers are neglecting to allow OpenID authentication on their mobile apps, or if there is an inherent hurdle in the mobile framework making it difficult/impossible to use OpenID.

As we move forward in developing our latest application over at Real Pie, I’m sure that we’ll run across this issue; in fact, I’ll make sure we do so that I have a more complete understanding of the system. As more people move away from their computers and onto Kinda SmartPhones and Truly SmartPhones (err, umm, there’s only one: the iPhone), we need to start paying much closer attention to seamless integration.

Here are some OpenID resources for you to make up your own mind:

6 thoughts on “OpenID and mobile apps? Anyone? Bueller?”

  1. That’s a flaw in Backpack’s OpenID implementation: they should allow you to have both a username and password AND an OpenID (or more than one OpenID) associated with your account. For mobile application support they don’t even need to let you pick your own password – if they application is going to save the password why not just have Backpack generate you a password which you type in to the mobile application once and then forget about?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>