Trust is a wonderful thing

Android 5.0 devices can now unlock Chromebooks with Smart Lock

Back in April, I noticed Google working on a trick that unlocks Chrome OS devices with Android phones. Now, the feature is here; at least for those adventurous types that use the Dev Channel of Chrome OS.

I saw the news over the weekend and my friend over at Computerworld, JR Raphael, put the new feature through the paces earlier today. Since it seemed relatively easy to set up, I switched my [company]Google[/company] Chromebook Pixel to the Chrome OS Dev Channel to test it and it works as advertised. Of course, you have to find the Smart Lock setting before you can actually use it.

That’s not too difficult though. Just type Chrome://flags in the Chrome browser on a Chromebook and find enable the Easy Unlock and Easy Sign-On experimental features. You’ll need to restart the browser on your Chromebook but after that you’ll see a new Smart Lock feature on the Advanced Chrome OS settings page.

Smart lock Chrome OS settings

Click the Smart Lock button to set it up. Chrome OS will start looking for your nearby Android phone and ask if that’s the device you want to use with Smart Lock. Note that you’ll need to have a lock screen method on the Android phone for this to work.

Once you walk through the setup prompts, you’re all set! Now, when your unlocked Android phone is nearby the Chromebook, you won’t have to enter your Chrome OS password. Instead, you can just click the little green unlock icon.

Chrome OS Smart Unlock button

I had hoped that an Android Wear watch could be used for Smart Lock but it doesn’t look like it. At least not yet. The best I get is a notification on my Smartwatch 3 that my phone just unlocked my Chromebook for now.

Android Wear unlocked Chromebook

Now if my Android Wear watch can be a trusted device to keep my Android phone unlocked, I wonder: At some point might all three devices be paired and stay unlocked when in proximity? Here’s hoping.

10 Responses to “Android 5.0 devices can now unlock Chromebooks with Smart Lock”

  1. Nikolaos Skordilis

    I spotted the Smart Lock setting on my Chromebook settings a while ago (I use the dev channel but had not enabled Smart Lock among the flags) and I was curious to find out what it is. I clicked the “Set up Smart Lock” and I was automatically logged off and asked to insert my password. I did and then the “Find you phone” pop-up appeared. I tried to find me phone and.. it did not work. I looked it up to find out why and found your article. All the steps above refer to a required “Android phone” but at no point at all do the words “Lollipop” or the number “5.0” ever appear. Was it so difficult to add a mere word or a number Google? Seriously?

  2. John Olsen

    This isn’t nothing new. Check out SAASPASS. I’ve been using it for this kind of unlock with my Mac and iPhone, using full 2FA, not just some static pairing. Additionally, they also now support PCs and Androids for locking down and unlocking with 2FA. I don’t believe they’ve begun any marketing or PR yet though, as I only stumbled upon it on the app store, and am amazed by its functionality. I log in automatically with 2FA now to my google Apps domain, without ever typing in a password. It’s just awesome!

  3. David Mullens

    i set it up, but can’t get it to work. I always get the message “Your Chromebook has been manually locked. Enter your password to unlock it.” The lock icon is always yellow, never green. I have my Android phone’s lock screen as a swipe. Not sure in what circumstances the chromebook is suppose to use the smart lock.

  4. I’m using this, but it doesn’t really work as I’d expect. Simply closing the lid on the Chromebook which puts it to sleep and locks it then triggers this message when trying to unlock it next time (i.e., pressing the green “unlock” button after it detects the phone): “Your Chromebook ha been manually locked. Enter your password to unlock it”. In this case I wouldn’t consider it to have been “manually locked” and I’d expect the phone to be useful for automatically unlocking it. If this isn’t how it works, then I’m confused over exactly what this feature is supposed to do for me.