SSH public key authenication can make SSH much more convenient because you do not need to type a password for every SSH connect. Instead, in common usage, the first time you connect, GNOME Keyring, KWallet, or your desktop environment's equivalent will pop up and offer to keep your decrypted private key securely in memory. Those programs will remember your key until the next time you reboot your computer (or possibly until you log out completely and log back in).
But those are tied to your desktop environment. If you are not at a GUI, either using a computer in text-mode using a console or connecting over SSH, then you do not have access to those programs.