Using Google Smart Lock on Your Android Device

How to setup Google Smart Lock on your Android devices

An android phone with a brightly-lit screen.

 

martin-dm / Getty Images

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. 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. When 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. Enabling Smart Lock solves this by setting up Trusted Places, such as your home, office, or anywhere else 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 lets 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: Someone with a similar voice could unlock your device. Be cautious when using it.

Trusted Devices

Whenever you connect via Bluetooth to a new device, such as a smartwatch, 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, your phone will remain unlocked every time your phone connects to that device. 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 a Wear OS device (formerly Android Wear device) or other 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

The directions below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

On an Android Device

  1. Go into Settings > General > Lock Screen & Security or Security & privacy > Trust agents and make sure that Smart Lock is turned on.

    The Trusted Agents setting might be in a slightly different place on your particular phone model. Search for Trusted Agents by tapping the magnifying glass at the top of the Settings screen to find it.

    Smart Lock, Trusted Devices, toggle OFF on Android
  2. Then, still under the Security settings, search for Smart Lock.

  3. Tap Smart Lock and enter your password, unlock pattern, or pin code, or use your fingerprint.

  4. From here, you can enable On-body detection, add Trusted places and Trusted devices, and set up Voice Match.

    Continue, toggle ON, Got It button on Android
  5. 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 ChromeOS 71 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.

    Screenshot of Chromebook Bluetooth settings.
  3. On your Chromebook, go to Settings > Connected Devices> Set up.

    Chromebook connected devices settings.
  4. In the Connect to your phone dialog, under Select a device, select the device you want to setup.

    Screenshot of connect your device in Chromebook.
  5. Select Accept & continue.

    Screenshot of connecting a device in Chromebook.
  6. Enter your password and select Done.

    Entering Google password in Chromebook.
  7. Select Done again to complete adding a device.

    Completion of adding a device in Chromebook.
  8. Select the device under Connected devices to Enable or disable Smart Lock.

    Smart Lock settings in Chromebook.

In the Chrome Browser

  1. When you log in 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, select the three-dot Chrome menu in the upper right, and select Settings.

    Settings menu item in Google Chrome
  3. Near the top of the Settings tab, you'll see the Autofill box. Select Passwords inside it.

    Passwords item in Autofill section of Chrome settings
  4. Here's where you can control what Chrome does with your passwords. First, toggle Offer to save passwords on, if it's not already. Then, do the same with Auto Sign-in.

    Save passwords and Auto Sign-in toggle buttons in Chrome Settings
  5. 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.

    Google, Smart Lock for Passwords buttons and toggles for Smart Lock and Auto sign-in