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What is Google Smart Lock and how does it work?

Forget unlocking your phone every single time you use it.
By
December 11, 2021

Google Smart Lock allows you to access your devices much faster when you’re not too worried about security. If you’re at home, you probably don’t want to enter your passcode every time you pick up your phone. However, this feature allows you to switch back to your regular security in public easily. Here’s a quick look at how you can use Google Smart Lock and how to set it up on your Android phone or Chromebook.

Note: Some of the steps in this article were put together using a Google Pixel 4a with 5G running Android 12 and a Lenovo Chromebook Duet running Chrome OS 94.0.4606.124. Keep in mind some steps might be different depending on your device and software.


What features does it offer?

Google Smart Lock offers a whole host of different features, allowing you to use it in plenty of situations.

On-body Detection: Provided you’ve already entered your pin or passcode once before putting it back in your pocket or bag, Google Smart Lock will not require you to enter it again when you take it back out.

Trusted Devices: This option allows you to select Bluetooth devices you trust. This means that when your phone is connected to these devices, you will not need to enter your passcode to unlock it.

Trusted Places: Here, you will have to create a location that you trust. This could be your home or office, and you won’t need to enter your passcode when you are there.

Voice Match & Trusted Face: These two options are being phased out and are only present on much older Android devices. However, they work by allowing you to set up your voice or face to use your phone without a passcode. The voice match option won’t leave your phone fully unlocked all the time, but it will allow you to access some of your device’s features.

See also: How fingerprint scanners work


How to set up Google Smart Lock on your Android device

Android 12 Settings Menu - Using Google Smart Lock
Joe Hindy / Android Authority

It’s easy to set up and use Google Smart Lock on your Android device, and it only requires you to have a password or other screen lock set up on your device already. Once you do, follow these steps:

  1. Head over to your device’s settings.
  2. Go to Security.
  3. Select Advanced settings.
  4. Choose Smart Lock.
  5. Enter your passcode or another screen lock.
  6. Choose either On-body detection, Trusted places, or Trusted devices.
  7. Follow on-screen instructions.

More: Five Android settings you should change to improve your smartphone


How to use Google Smart Lock on a Chromebook

Google Pixelbook Go Review open with pixel 4 - Using Google Smart Lock
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Google Smart Lock works a little differently on Chromebooks, and it allows you to unlock it simply by connecting to your Android device. You will need to sign in to your Google Account on both devices and have Chrome OS 71 or newer and Android 5.1 Lollipop or newer. Once you sign in and update, follow these steps:

  1. Select the time from the bottom right of your Chromebook’s screen.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Go into Connected devices.
  4. Next to your Android device, select Set up.
  5. Select your Android device and click on Accept & continue.
  6. Enter your password. Then hit Done.
  7. Go back to Connected devices.
  8. Select your Android device.
  9. Select Smart lock and then click on Unlock device and sign in to your Google account.
  10. Once you receive the confirmation message on your phone, choose the options you want to turn on under “enabled.”
  11. Follow any further instructions to complete the setup.

See also: Chromebook vs. laptop — Which one should you get?


The pros and cons of Google Smart Lock

Aside from accessing your devices quickly, Google Smart Lock also allows you to share passwords across your devices. Google Smart Lock makes it easy to get into your devices without a screen lock, and you can save your passwords to access your favorite websites and apps quickly.

However, keep in mind this is a security risk in certain situations. It’s OK if you’ve set up your house as a trusted location, and it’s just you or your family at home. However, on-body detection and trusted devices could potentially allow others to get access to your unlocked phone.

The feature is simple enough to turn off with the settings in your Google account. You can do this on your Chromebook or Android device by going to settings first and then going into your Google account settings.

See also: What should you do when your phone is lost or stolen?