Carrying around the Aadhaar card, the biometrics-based unique identifier, recently became a lot easier when the supervisory agency UIDAI launched the mAadhaar app for Android devices. The app enables you to store all your Aadhaar details, such as name, date of birth, gender, address, etc. on your smartphone, instead of having to keep the physical card with you anymore. But the UIDAI clarified, the mAadhaar app is still in beta testing stage, and we quickly realised this to be true when we checked it out. Here we take a look at the mAadhaar app, its features, and areas where it can do with some improvements.
For one thing, the features present in the mAadhaar app are still pretty limited. Using the app, you can download you Aadhaar details to your device, which can be used in place of the Aadhaar card itself. The downloaded details include your photo, name, date of birth, Aadhaar number, and a QR code that people can scan to get your Aadhaar information.
Beyond that, you can use the mAadhaar app for Android to see if your biometrics are locked or unlocked, and you can change this status. Of course, it was already fairly simple to lock and unlock your biometrics, via the UIDAI website, but having it available through an app on your phone should simplify things.
One more thing that you can do with the app is generate a time-based OTP (TOTP) through the app, which can be used instead of the SMS-based OTP. This is a useful feature given how unreliable SMS networks can be - if you've tried to authenticate anything (such as e-verifying your tax filings, perhaps) with your Aadhaar number, then you know how much of a delayed response this can lead to at times. Having a TOTP option should, hopefully, be much more reliable and faster.
In fact, the mAadhaar app itself is a great example of why SMS OTP does not really work. That's because, in order to use the app, when you enter your Aadhaar details, you're verified via SMS OTP. Except of course, when we tried to use it, there were a huge number of issues. The SMS did not come and it took multiple attempts before we finally got it. The app tries reading the SMS automatically, except the app would freeze automatically, and we had to start over from the beginning.
This went on multiple times, with the app crashing rather than being willing to add us, until finally, with no real explanation, it worked and we were in.
Another issue with the way SMS OTP has been implemented with this app is that you can't manually enter the OTP. You have to give the app access to your SMS inbox, and if you were thinking that you could keep the app on your tablet while getting the OTP on your phone - that's not going to work. This also means that you can't store your family members' Aadhaar details using the Aadhaar app, as the number that's linked to your Aadhaar should match with the SIM card in your phone. That's quite likely intended as a security precaution, and thus not likely to change over time.
On the other hand, the mAadhaar app is expected to add new features over time, which would be great, because right now it's of limited use. TOTP is one reason why we would want to have this app; unlocking biometrics quickly is another area which could be useful. But unless you're using the Aadhaar for a lot of authentications, it's not clear why you'd need to have these features on your phone.
Watch the video below to check out the five things you need to know about the new mAadhaar app, such as checking out the updated look of the Aadhaar card if you update some details, among others.
For example, if you need a local copy of your Aadhaar, you could just take a picture of the card with your phone, and store that on your gallery. If you've taken a decent photo, even the QR code on the card should remain readable, and other data such as your photo, name, date of birth, gender, and card number are all present there as well. Remember, the physical Aadhaar card itself holds no significance - the number is the important part.
One feature that is lacking is biometric authentication to the app - the only way to use the app is by entering a password, and you have to enter the password anytime that any action is carried out. This can be disabled, though it probably isn't a good idea to do that. However, the password requirements are pretty annoying - it requires a length of between eight characters, with one uppercase letter, one special character, and one number. It's the kind of thinking that leads to thousands of people sharing bad passwords like Password@123. Also, given that most modern phones come with fingerprint scanners now, having the option to sign into your app with a fingerprint could have been a big plus.
Finally, one word of warning, if you are planning to download this app, make sure you download the official mAadhaar app - the name of the app developer should say Unique Identification Authority of India. This isn't the UID's fault - app stores have long had a clone problem - but right now, the top results for mAadhaar do not include the official app so be careful you don't end up downloading another app and handing over all your data to it.
mAadhaar app is available for Android, with an iOS version 'coming soon'.