Apple Migrating iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra Users With Two-Step Verification to Two-Factor Authentication

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Apple recently emailed Apple ID users with two-step verification enabled to inform them that, upon installing iOS 11 or macOS High Sierra, they will be automatically updated to its newer two-factor authentication method.


Apple introduced two-factor authentication in 2015 as an improved version of its two-step verification method for securing an Apple ID account with both a password and a secondary form of verification. Two-factor authentication requires an Apple device with iOS 9, OS X El Capitan, watchOS 2, any tvOS version, or later.

The two security methods are similar in many ways, but two-factor authentication automatically sends a six-digit verification code to all trusted devices registered to a given Apple ID, whereas two-step verification manually prompts users to send a four-digit code to any SMS-capable trusted device registered.

Two-factor authentication also displays a map on all trusted devices with an approximate location of where an Apple ID sign-in attempt occurred when a user is trying to access the account from an unknown device or on the web.


Apple's two-factor authentication method disables the Recovery Key by default, since offline verification codes can be generated on trusted devices in the Settings app. On iOS, users can still enable the Recovery Key as a backup method in Settings > Apple ID > Password & Security > Recovery Key.

The full text of the email is copied below:

If you install the iOS 11 or macOS High Sierra public betas this summer and meet the basic requirements, your Apple ID will be automatically updated to use two-factor authentication. This is our most advanced, easy-to-use account security, and it's required to use some of the latest features of iOS, macOS, and iCloud.

Once updated, you'll get the same extra layer of security you enjoy with two-step verification today, but with an even better user experience. Verification codes will be displayed on your trusted devices automatically whenever you sign in, and you will no longer need to keep a printed recovery key to make sure you can reset a forgotten password.

iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra public betas will be available in late June through the Apple Beta Software Program. The software updates will be available for all eligible iOS devices and Macs in the fall.

Top Rated Comments

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39 months ago

So... does that mean that those of us who use our Apple IDs with devices that remain on older OS versions will no longer be able to authenticate on those older devices if we upgrade any of the others?

I have an iPad 1 and an Apple TV 3, In order to authenticate Apple will send you the 4-digit access code, you will then need to type your usual password followed by the 4 numbers. Easy (:
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
39 months ago

I got that email last week and it was not at all clear what they were saying or what the difference is between the two methods. Very un-Apple.

This article makes it clear. I hope it's based on an updated form of the mail.

They only sent the one email. I received it too, and did some research into it. Glad it helps!
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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39 months ago
The location aspect is not very accurate. Everytime I login Apple thinks I'm London when I'm actually 200 miles away from London. Maybe it's the only UK city they know.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
39 months ago

So... does that mean that those of us who use our Apple IDs with devices that remain on older OS versions will no longer be able to authenticate on those older devices if we upgrade any of the others?

There's a workaround for older devices. The instructions to authenticate are slightly different. Just pay attention at the prompt and make sure to understand it and then follow the instructions.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
39 months ago
I got that email last week and it was not at all clear what they were saying or what the difference is between the two methods. Very un-Apple.

This article makes it clear. I hope it's based on an updated form of the mail.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
39 months ago
I applaud Apple for implementing two-factor auth, but I wish they would use TOTP ('https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time-based_One-time_Password_Algorithm') like all my other accounts (Microsoft, Google, Dropbox, and my employer). One program (Authy is my chosen app) rules them all.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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