Global Identity in the iPhone browser
By bblfish on Apr 03, 2009
Typing user name/passwords on cell phones is extreemly tedious. Here we show how identification & authentication can be done in two clicks. No URL to type in, no changes to the iPhone, just using bog standard SSL technology tied into a distributed global network of trust, which is known as foaf+ssl.
After having installed a foaf+ssl certificate on my phone (which I will explain how to do in my next post), I directed Safari to foaf.me, which is a foaf+ssl enabled web site. This brought up the following screen:
This is a non personalised page. In the top right is a simple foaf+ssl login button. This site was not designed for the iPhone, or it would have been a lot more prominent. (This is easy to change for foaf.me of course). So I the zoomed onto the login link as shown in the following snapshot. Remember that I don't have an account on foaf.me. This could be the first time ever I go there. But nevertheless I can sign up: just click that link.
So clicking on this foaf+ssl enabled link brings up the following window in Safari. Safari warns me first that the site requires a certificate. The link I clicked on sent me to a page that is requesting my details.
As I do in fact want to login, I click the continue button. The iPhone then presents me with an identity selector, asking me which of my two certificates I want to use to log in:
Having selected the second one, the certificate containing my bblfish.net WebId is sent to the server, which authenticates me. The information from my foaf file is then used to personalise my foaf.me experience. Here foaf.me gives me a nice human readable view of my foaf file. I can even explore my social network right there and then, by clicking on the links to my friends. Again, this will work even if you never did go to foaf.me before. All you need is of course a well filled out foaf file, which services such as foafbuilder.qdos.com are making very easy to do. Anyway, here is the foaf.me personalised web page. It really knows a lot about me after just 2 clicks!
The foaf.me site currently has another tab, showing my activity stream of all the chats I have on the web, which it can piece together since I linked all my accounts together in my foaf file, as I explained in the post "Personalising my Blog" a few months ago.
Other web sites could use this information very differently. My web server itself may also decide to show selected information to selected servers... Implementing this is it turns out quite easy. More on that on this blog and on the foaf-protocols mailing list.