Lenovo N20 Chromebook-8

One rather useful but seldom talked about Android Lollipop feature is the option to have your smartphone work as a wireless key for your Chromebook, called Smart Lock. The feature was first mentioned back at Google I/O but hasn’t appeared in a final Chrome OS build yet, presumably as functionality is still being tweaked.

That being said, you can actually already test Smart Lock out on your Chromebook, providing that you’re using the Dev channel of Chrome OS and have a Lollipop smartphone around to test it out with. Remember, the Dev channel isn’t intended for general consumer use.

To activate Smart Lock, you have to tick the corresponding flags (chrome://flags), Easy Unlock and Easy Sign-in. After that you should see a new setting called Smart Lock (beta) appear in the general settings menu. Simply click the set-up button to go through the set-up process. You can read a fully fleshed out guide of the process here.

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Once complete, you can unlock your Chromebook using your Lollipop enabled smartphone over a simple Bluetooth connection, which can reach up to 100 feet. A green circular icon in the Chrome OS login box identifies when the device is in range and unlocked, although you will still need to click on the box to sign in to your Chromebook. If your phone is locked, the icon will turn yellow and will require you to unlock the phone or enter your usual password to continue.

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Whether or not this is more or less secure that a standard password isn’t quite clear. On the one hand having your smartphone nearby doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to unlock your Chromebook, however you still need to unlock your phone for the wireless unlock to work and the feature can be temporarily disabled.

Google still appears to be testing out how well the security feature works, as the option is still hidden away in the Dev build it suggests that a finish release could still be some time away. We are still waiting on an announcement as to when Smart Lock will be making its way to the Stable channel of Chrome OS.

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