Yesterday’s stable channel update to Chrome OS bought with it Smart Lock — a feature that lets you unlock your device simply by having your Android smartphone close by.
It’s very neat — but how do you set it up?
Smart Lock Requirements
To use Smart Lock on a Chromebook you need the following as a minimum:
- A Chromebook running Chrome OS 40 with Bluetooth
- An Android smartphone running Android 5.0 with Bluetooth
Android tablets are not currently supported. You also need to ensure that your smartphone has a lock screen configured.
Assuming you have both you can, in theory, use smart lock. I say in theory as early reports suggest it’s a bit hit and miss. But don’t panic: if smart lock doesn’t work for you now, it may in a future update, and you won’t be locked out of your device if it stops working later down the line either as you can always log in by entering your password.
Before proceeding place your phone next to your Chromebook and make sure it is connected to the internet (preferably over Wi-Fi on the same network as your Chromebook).
Those caveats out of the way, and assuming you have your Chromebook turned on, signed in and online:
- Go to Settings
- Click ‘Show advanced settings’
- Under the heading “Smart Lock (Beta)” click the “Set Up Smart Lock” button
As soon as you hit that button you’ll be made to log in again. This is a security measure designed to prevent someone else pairing their phone to your Chromebook.
After re-entering your password you’ll be brought back to the desktop. A window will open with on-screen prompts that walk you though the rest of the setup process fully.
As part of the process Bluetooth will be enabled on both your Chromebook and your smartphone. Once connected, authorised and paired you’ll get a notification toast on your phone to let you know it was successful.
That’s pretty much it. When you next want to sign into your Chromebook, assuming your phone is nearby, you will see a small ‘open padlock’ icon in your user pod. This means you will be able to log in just by clicking your user pod (and unlocking your phone) — no need to enter a password.
If smart lock is set up and your phone is not nearby or is nearby but locked, you’ll see a closed padlock icon and will need to enter your password as normal.
To turn off or disable Smart Lock:
- Go to Settings
- Click ‘Show Advanced Settings’
- Under ‘Smart Lock’ click the ‘Turn off Smart Lock’ button
As nifty as the feature is it’s not going to be for everyone. The fact that few devices are running Lollipop, the version of Android required to use the feature, already limits the number of users who can take advantage of it.
And then there is the practicality of needing to keep your phone unlocked with Bluetooth on to log in; if my phone is in my rucksack on the other side of the room I’d rather just hammer in my password to get going. It’d be quicker than getting up, rifling through, poking about, etc.
That’s just me. If you give it a whirl yourself let us know what you make of it in the comments.