Using Google Smart Lock on Your Android Device

Keep your phone unlocked when it's safe and store important passwords

Google Smart Lock
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Google Smart Lock, sometimes called Android Smart Lock, is a handy set of features introduced with Android 5.0 Lollipop. It solves the problem of constantly having to unlock your phone after it's been idle by enabling you to set up scenarios in which your phone can safely stay unlocked for extended periods of time. The feature is available on Android devices and some Android apps, Chromebooks, and in the Chrome browser.

On-Body Detection

This smart lock feature device detects when you have your device in your hand or pocket and keeps it unlocked. Anytime you put your phone down; it will automatically lock, so you don't have to worry about prying eyes.

Trusted Places

When you're in the comfort of your home, it can be especially frustrating when your device keeps locking up on you. If you enable smart lock, you can solve this by setting up Trusted Places, such as your home and office or anywhere you feel comfortable leaving your device unlocked for a length of time. This feature requires turning on GPS, though, which will drain your battery faster.

Trusted Face

Remember the Face Unlock feature? Introduced with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, this functionality let you unlock your phone using facial recognition. Unfortunately, the feature was unreliable and easy to trick using a photo of the owner. This feature, now called Trusted Face, has been improved and rolled into Smart Lock; with it, the phone uses facial recognition to enable the device's owner to interact with notifications and unlock it.

Trusted Voice

If you use voice commands, you can also use the Trusted Voice feature. Once you've set up voice detection, your device can unlock itself when it hears a voice match. This feature isn't entirely secure, as someone with a similar voice could unlock your device, so be cautious when using it.

Trusted Devices

Finally, you can set up Trusted Devices. Whenever you connect via Bluetooth to a new device, such as a smart watch, Bluetooth headset, car stereo, or another accessory, your device will ask if you want to add it as a trusted device. If you opt in, then, every time your phone connects to that device, it will remain unlocked. If you pair your smartphone with a wearable, such as the Moto 360 smartwatch, you can look at texts and other notifications on the wearable and then respond to them on your phone. Trusted Devices is a great feature if you use an Android Wear device or any essential accessory frequently.

Chromebook Smart Lock

You can also enable this feature on your Chromebook by going into advanced settings. Then, if your Android phone is unlocked and nearby, you can unlock your Chromebook with one tap. 

Saving Passwords with Smart Lock

Smart Lock also offers a password-saving feature that works with compatible apps on your Android device and the Chrome browser. To enable this feature, go into Google settings; here you can also turn on auto sign-in to make the process even easier. Passwords are saved in your Google account, and accessible whenever you're signed in on a compatible device.

For extra security, you can block Google from saving passwords from particular apps, such as banking or other apps that contain sensitive data. The only downside is that not all apps are compatible; that requires intervention from app developers.

How to Set Up Smart Lock

On an Android device:

  1. Go into Settings > security or Lock screen and security > Advanced > Trust agents and make sure that Smart Lock is turned on.
  2. Then, still under settings, search for Smart Lock.
  3. Tap Smart Lock and put in your password, unlock pattern, or pin code or use your fingerprint.
  4. Then you can enable on-body detection, add trusted places and devices, and set up voice recognition.
  1. Once you've set up Smart Lock, you'll see a pulsing circle at the bottom of your lock screen, around the lock symbol. 

On a Chromebook running OS 40 or higher:

  1. Your Android device must run 5.0 or later and be unlocked and nearby.
  2. Both devices must be connected to the Internet, with Bluetooth enabled, and signed into the same Google account.
  3. On your Chromebook, go to Settings > Show advanced settings > Smart Lock for Chromebook > Set up
  4. Follow the on-screen directions.

In the Chrome browser:

  1. When you login into a website or compatible app, Smart Lock should pop-up and ask if you want to save the password. 
  2. If you don't get prompted to save passwords, go into Chrome's settings > Passwords and forms and tick the box that says "Offer to save your web passwords." 
  3. You can manage your passwords by going to passwords.google.com

For Android apps:

  1. By default, Smart Lock for Passwords is active.
  2. If it's not, go into Google settings (either within settings or a separate app depending on your phone).
  3. Turn on Smart Lock for Passwords; this will enable it for the mobile version of Chrome as well.
  4. Here, you can also turn on Auto-sign in, which will sign you into apps and websites automatically as long as you're logged into your Google account.