New in Codebook for iOS and macOS: Remain Unlocked for Password AutoFill

Recently we released Codebook 4.4 across all four platforms, rolling out the new Image and PDF Attachments feature. We tried to mention all the other changes made to the apps in this release, but some could use a short break-out article covering the changes (e.g. the switch to Disk Image download format for macOS). Today I’d like to quickly cover a new addition to the Password AutoFill feature in the iOS and macOS versions: a setting called Remain Unlocked.

On the Apple platforms we support Password AutoFill by providing an App Extension (specifically, a Credential Provider Extension), which is a separate, code-signed binary process from the main Codebook application. This has to be explicitly enabled by the user in the Settings app on iOS and System Preferences on macOS. When you interact with AutoFill, our extension is only loaded into memory for a short period of time. On iOS it will deactivate as soon as the app invoking it is deactivated (e.g. you switch apps), and on macOS it will do the same when the calling application is quit.

However, while you are still using the calling application (e.g. Safari), the Extension will remain active. Sometimes you will need to access AutoFill repeatedly to supply login credentials for the same site, for instance websites that separate out entering your username and password on separate views or pages.

By default, when you interact with Codebook’s Password AutoFill, you will always be prompted to authenticate with your Master Password (or for biometric login, if you have Touch ID Login or Face ID Login enabled in Codebook). As soon as the AutoFill interface is dismissed, we immediately close and lock the connection to your encrypted database. However, during the time period while you are still using the app in question and the extension remains active, we can keep that connection open and avoid asking you to repeatedly login. This can be accomplished with a new Remain Unlocked setting we’ve added in version 4.4.

On iOS, when you bring up Codebook’s Password AutoFill interface, there is now a gear icon on the left side of the navigation bar, making the setting available there:

We went with a simple on/off setting on iOS since the extension is so short-lived. On macOS, the setting is similarly available on the Password AutoFill interface under the gear icon, but since applications are much longer lived on macOS we thought it prudent to only allow it to remain unlocked for five or ten minutes:

A few folks have asked us to implement something along these lines since we first implemented support for Password AutoFill, we hope it makes the feature more convenient to use while still striking a good balance between ease of use and security. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know!

Further documentation for these features is available in the Codebook Help pages: