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Passwordless Authentication With Account Kit

Read Time: 6 mins

About Account Kit

What Is Passwordless Authentication?

Passwordless authentication skips using a password for registration or login. Instead, user authentication is confirmed either with a one-time SMS verification code sent to the user's phone or a one-time link to their email address. 

Why Use Passwordless Authentication?

  • Seamless login and registration process for your users. 
  • Keeps access to your app secure, because the user will not reuse passwords or resort to easily guessed passwords (such as "password").
  • Avoids taxing your users with the need to create and remember unique passwords

In this quick tip tutorial, I will show you how to use Account Kit by Facebook for passwordless authentication in your Android app. Your users will register and login with either their phone number or an email address. Users don't even need to have a Facebook account to be authenticated. 

Not only that, but Account Kit is easy to implement and saves you from having to tediously build a login system. 

Facebook Account Kit homepage screenshotFacebook Account Kit homepage screenshotFacebook Account Kit homepage screenshot

How Does Account Kit Work?

The following diagram should make clear how Account Kit works. 

How Facebook Account Kit works How Facebook Account Kit works How Facebook Account Kit works

The authentication takes place in a series of exchanges between the user and app. First the user initiates the login, perhaps by loading the app on their phone. Then, a verification code is sent to the user's SMS, or a one-time link is sent by email. After that, if the user enters the validation code or clicks the link, they will be authenticated for the app.

Another cool feature of Facebook Account Kit is that when your user enters his or her phone number into the app, Account Kit will make an attempt to match it with the phone number connected to the user's Facebook profile. If the user is logged into the Android Facebook app, and the phone numbers match, Account Kit will skip sending the SMS verification code and the user will be logged in more seamlessly.

Using Account Kit

1. Prerequisites 

To begin to use Account Kit, you'll need:

2. Enable Account Kit 

Go to your app dashboard, click the Add Product button, and select Account Kit. Then click the Get Started button to add Account Kit. What you will see is the settings configuration for Account Kit. 

Account Kit settings Account Kit settings Account Kit settings

3. Declare Dependencies

Add the dependency with the latest version of the Account Kit SDK in your build.gradle file and sync your project. 

4. Update AndroidManifest.xml 

Add your Facebook app ID, Account Kit client token (this is available on the Account Kit settings dashboard), and the INTERNET permission to the AndroidManifest.xml

5. Update the Resource Files 

Include your app id and Account Kit client token in your strings.xml file.

Also include the Account Kit theme in your styles.xml

6. Initialize the SDK

In your Application class, initialize the SDK (remember to include the android:name in your AndroidManifest.xml).

7. Initiate the Login Flow 

We have to write a separate handler for the SMS and email login authentication flows.

For SMS, on line 5, we specify the login type LoginType.PHONE

For email, on line 5, we specify the login type LoginType.EMAIL

8. Lay Out the Login Screen

Here's a simple layout for a screen that shows buttons to log in with SMS or email.

9. Handle Responses From the Login Flow

Now when a user attempts to log in, we'll get a response in the onActivityResult() method. In this method, we can handle successful, cancelled, and failed authentications. 

The Completed App

Now we can run our app to test the SMS and email login flows!

The finished appThe finished appThe finished app

Note that the Account Kit JavaScript SDK doesn't support WebView login, so you can't log people in from a WebView with Account Kit. You'll have to write your Account Kit login interface with native code.


In this quick tip tutorial, you learned about passwordless authentication using Facebook Account Kit: what it is, why you might want to consider using it, and how to implement it in your Android app.  

A word of warning, though: some see passwordless authentication as less secure. Most people wouldn't use it when security is a priority, for example with a banking app. So use some discretion about when to use it and when to go with a more traditional authentication scheme.

To learn more about Facebook Account Kit, refer to the official documentation. And to learn more about Android development, check out some of our other posts here on Envato Tuts+!

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