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Twitter Rolls Out Digits, Phone Number-based Log-in for Web

Building upon the release of Digits for mobile last year, Twitter has finally launched the same login authentication login for websites in an aim to eradicate the security problems that come with using passwords for logging in.

Twitter engineer Manuel Deschamps says in a blog post that the microblogging network has released a JavaScript software developer kit that allows mobile app developers with app websites to incorporate Digits into their websites. This allows them to let their apps' users log in to their apps' websites without having to remember a password. Instead, they simply have to enter their phone number during the first time they try to log in.

Digits for web works like two-factor authentication. When a user logs in to a website for the first time, the website asks for the user's phone number, to which it automatically sends a multiple-digit authentication number that the user needs to enter into the website to authenticate his information. Once the user has logged in successfully for the first time, Digits will no longer require authentication during the succeeding attempts to log in.

"Unlike other web login services, Digits login for web doesn't force you to deal with the complexity of OAuth," says Deschamps. "Our library is cached, self-contained, and minimal in memory footprint; you do not have to include any other third-party libraries. And as we release new features, our SDK will auto-update without ever breaking your site."

Twitter says Digits benefits developers because reducing an extra step in the login process, that is, requiring users to memorize a password, helps increase the conversion rate for logins. Users will also benefit from using a phone number-based login system because of the limitations of using a password-enabled system.

Digits was first announced by Twitter director for mobile platforms Jeff Seibert in October as a white-label login that allows users to log in to their favorite mobile apps on Android and iOS. With the expansion of Digits for mobile developers' websites, Twitter is one step closer to achieving its goal of becoming more than just a microblogging social network but as a bigger platform offering mobile services. Twitter already offers a mobile development software suite called Fabric and a crash-tracking app called Crashlytics.

"As the platform grows, you won't think about Twitter as just the consumer app," Twitter vice president of product for revenue Kevin Weil said. "You'll think about Twitter as a broader mobile services company."

Twitter has not announced plans on monetizing Digits yet, but it is clear the company is eager to please developers in its effort to win a larger audience and increase online engagement. 

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