I've blogged about my feelings regarding the utterly dismal state of authentication on the network, and client-side, today. It's a pain we've all, sadly, just accept. It's also a pain that will soon, partially, go away on iOS devices, and could ultimately go away across the network at large. How you ask? Read on.
iOS Single Sign-On
Everyone's talking about the power of Twitter and Apple's native single sign-on model in iOS 5. While this is a phenomenal coup for both Twitter and Apple, it's only the tip of the iceberg. Having a widespread, networked, account namespace (Twitter) baked in at the operating system level is one of the few things that can truly revolutionize the network again. The splintered efforts on Android devices to accomplish this are well... splintered and therefore the network effect is hobbled; oh the power of owning the software, and the hardware. There is only one condition that has to be met, and it's a big one; though logical.
While very large social networks have had client-side software installed for years (AOL Instant Messenger for example), and some experimentation around this model has occurred, this is the first time the mobile use case, a widely used social network, and a widespread browser have come together with single sign-on precedent being set across iOS apps natively. The next step is to bridge this into web-apps, and I believe Apple will make this leap with Safari, and that Twitter will gleefully be the namespace upon which it takes place.
Google has hinted at Chrome OS/Chrome Browser single sign-on native integration as evidenced by a checkin Lee Mathews noticed in Chrominium awhile ago. I wonder if iOS5 will push Android Chrome hard in this direction.
New World Order
Even without navigator.user, the native single-sign support between Twitter and Apple in iOS 5 is going to change usability forever more. I can't wait for it to trickle into the network and web-apps. We've needed this for 15 years and it's going to be awesome to watch this evolve over the next several.