Automatic login

2018-12-08 2 min read

    This is somewhat heretical but whenever I receive an email that has a link behind a login I wish clicking the link would automatically log me in. I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit typing my username and password on various sites and too often have had to do it multiple times to get the password right. It would be amazing if clicking a link on an email would automatically log me in and navigate to the linked page.

    I know why no one does this: people forward emails all the time and it would be incredibly foolish to log people in without any authentication. That’s a perfectly valid reason and I get it but there are still some interesting things that can be done to improve the experience. One idea is to provide a read-only mode. It won’t work on sites where the content is private or interaction-heavy sites but it might make sense on others. Another option is to track the click and follow up with another email that contains an actual login link. The idea here is that you’re sending it to the user’s registered email so it would have to be clicked by the true owner. On the flip side this is a crappy experience if the person did have a successful login since they’d now have an extra email that added no value. Using a sophisticated AI/ML approach here might work as well - maybe looking at the IP address to see if it’s consistent with previous visits or leveraging browser fingerprinting.

    There’s no obvious solution here and this is more of a personal venting sessions but the entire email to site experience can be improved. I value my privacy and use multiple browsers throughout the day. I’ll also purge cookies and history every once in a while and rebuilding that is a slow experience. My use case is rare but it’s often the extreme cases that drive a new insight or workflow and I’d love to see more innovation happening with this sort of “smart login.”