Google says bye bye, CAPTCHAs, well, mostly

If you're tired of typing in letters and numbers from those distorted boxes, you're in luck.  

Sick of typing those annoying, and barely readable, letters and numbers to prove to a website that you're not a robot or a spammer?

You may be in luck.

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Google announced Wednesday that the company is trying to get rid of those annoying tasks - called CAPTCHAs, which is short for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.

Instead of requiring that users fill in the letters and numbers shown in a distorted image, sites that use Google's reCAPTCHA service will be able to use just one click, answering a simple question: Are you a robot?

"reCAPTCHA protects the websites you love from spam and abuse," wrote Vinay Shet, product manager for Google's reCAPTCHA service, in a blog post. "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... But, we figured it would be easier to just directly ask our users whether or not they are robots. So, we did! "

Google on Wednesday began rolling out a new API that rethinks the reCAPTCHA experience.
CAPTCHA "can be hard to read and frustrating for people, particularly on mobile devices," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. "People often have to put in the text several times. On the surface, this seems a good way to improve the user experience. It still requires human intervention, just something simpler."

CAPTCHAs were created to foil computer programs that hackers or spammers use to troll for access to websites or to collect email addresses.

Google said CAPTCHAs are less useful than they have been, although they are still frustrating to everyday users.

"CAPTCHAs have long relied on the inability of robots to solve distorted text,' wrote Shet. "However, our research recently showed that today's artificial intelligence technology can solve even the most difficult variant of distorted text at 99.8% accuracy. Thus distorted text, on its own, is no longer a dependable test."

The new API, along with Google's ability to analyze a user's actions -- before, during, and after clicking on the reCAPTCHA box -- let's the new technology figure out if the user is human or not.

"The new API is the next step in this steady evolution," Shet stated. "Now humans can just check the box and in most cases, they're through the challenge."

Don't get too excited just yet. Those CAPTCHAs aren't going away all together.

If the reCAPTCHA service can't definitively tell if a user is a person, a spammer or a hacker-based bot, a CAPTCHA will appear and ask for more clues.

"Users hated CAPTCHA," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "Getting rid of it likely could be classified as a humanitarian effort."