Spot the bot: Google’s new reCAPTCHA works in one click

4 Dec 2014

Internet search giant Google has redefined the classic CAPTCHA challenge by asking users to simply declare they are not robots.

Most of us have a love/hate affair with CAPTCHAs. Most of the time their use in preventing spambots from imitating us online are indispensable.

However, when they don’t work or you simply have misread the squiggly lines and inputted the wrong symbol, they can be infuriating.

Google has redefined the CAPTCHA by reducing the process to nothing more than clicking a single checkbox next to the statement ‘I am not a robot’.


“For years, we’ve prompted users to confirm they aren’t robots by asking them to read distorted text and type it into a box,” said Vinay Shet, product manager for reCAPTCHA.

“But, we figured it would be easier to just directly ask our users whether or not they are robots – so, we did! We’ve begun rolling out a new API that radically simplifies the reCAPTCHA experience. We’re calling it the ‘No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA’.

Shet said that on websites using the new API, users will be able to securely and easily verify they are human without having to solve a CAPTCHA.

Instead with one click they can confirm they are not a robot.

There’s a good reason for the change to CAPTCHA

Google revealed that today’s artificial intelligence technology can solve even the most difficult variant of distorted text at 99.8pc accuracy, which means it is no longer a dependable test.

To counter this, last year Google developed an Advanced Risk Analysis backend for reCAPTCHA that actively considers a user’s entire engagement with the CAPTCHA – before, during, and after – to determine whether that user is a human. 

“However, CAPTCHAs aren’t going away just yet,” Shet said.

“In cases when the risk analysis engine can’t confidently predict whether a user is a human or an abusive agent, it will prompt a CAPTCHA to elicit more cues, increasing the number of security checkpoints to confirm the user is valid.”

Early adopters of Google’s new No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA API include Snapchat, WordPress and Humble Bundle.

“In the last week, more than 60pc of WordPress’ traffic and more than 80pc of Humble Bundle’s traffic on reCAPTCHA encountered the No CAPTCHA experience – users got to these sites faster,” Shet added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years