Finally, Google has updated its useful Authenticator app on iOS to allow users to export their myriad of tokens and import them on another iPhone directly within the app. This has been my biggest hitch about using Google Authenticator, as it meant that you were in for a world of annoyance when upgrading or switching to a new iPhone — you wouldn’t really “move” Google Authenticator to a new iPhone so much as you would “set it all up from scratch again.” You’d have to visit each service that uses 2FA and either “change” it over by scanning a QR code on your iPhone, or disable 2FA entirely and set it back up again — also by scanning a QR code.
Either way, it was a pain in the arse, and it made my iPhone-owning self incredibly jealous of Android users who could just use the “Export Accounts” feature directly within the app to quickly transfer their Authenticator tokens to a new phone. Why it took Google this long to implement this critical capability in iOS, I’ll never know. But it’s here, and using it is simple:
- Make sure you’re using the most up-to-date version of Google Authenticator, which you can check via App Store > your Apple ID in the upper-right corner > Swipe down to refresh your list of apps with updates.
- Launch Google Authenticator.
- Tap the triple-dot icon in the upper-right corner and select Export accounts.
- Select up to 10 accounts to export. (Yes, you can only do 10 at a time.) Tap on Export once you’ve made your choice.
- Launch Google Authenticator on your new iPhone and use it to scan the QR code on your old iPhone.
- Once you’ve confirmed that the accounts were imported successfully — try logging into one, for example — tap Done on your old iPhone, and then tap Remove accounts.
Repeat the process as necessary, in case you’ve associated more than 10 accounts with Google Authenticator. But that’s it. It’s so easy, and it finally makes Google Authenticator a worthy entrant in the 2FA field — on iOS, at least. I’m not sure I’ll leave Authy to move back to Google’s app, but it’s nice to know that Google Authenticator finally has everything I need.
For what it’s worth, when I tried exporting accounts from my iPhone and importing them into the Android version of Google Authenticator, the process failed. The app instructed me to look for an updated version of Google Authenticator from the Google Play Store, which didn’t make sense, seeing as it was a fresh install of the app. That leads me to believe that this functionality (or fix) is coming soon, but wasn’t ready as of when I wrote this.