Android phones may soon be able to unlock Chrome OS

December 13, 2013
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chrome os voice commands Francois Beaufort

Chrome OS users may eventually be able to lock and unlock their Chromebooks with their phone or any number of accessories.

A new Chrome API found in a recent build of Chromium OS called “chrome.screenlockPrivate” seems to hint at a future feature of the operating system. The description of the API in the Chromium code review simply states “The chrome.screenlockPrivate API allows select apps to control the ChromeOS ScreenLocker.” There is a Google Doc linked in the description that reveals a few more details.

The Google Doc mentions a feature that will let users lock and unlock their screen using USB, NFC, or Bluetooth. Users would be able to unlock their Chromebook with a “phone, ring, watch, or badge.” Doing so will eliminate the need for a password, though presumably the option for a password will still exist in case users aren’t near their trusted device for any reason.

The API sounds very similar to the trusted devices feature of Android smartphones that lets users bypass the lock screen of their smartphone as long as the trusted device is connected to the phone. For phones a smartwatch like the Pebble makes perfect sense for the feature because it’s something you’ll probably always have on your person. For Chromebooks the natural companion could be your phone, because you probably always have your phone available.

As the open-source version of Chrome OS, Chromium OS is where features often get tested before they make it to the consumer version of the OS. This new screen unlock feature may make it to Chrome OS sometime in the future, but there’s no telling when that may be.

Would you use such a feature if it existed in Chrome OS or any other desktop OS?

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