'What is Google Smart Lock?': A guide to Google's feature for Android phones, Chromebooks, and passwords in general

  • GoogleSmart Lock refers to three different tools that do different things on different devices.
  • You can enable GoogleSmart Lock on Android phones and tablets or Chromebooks, each with different effects. You can also use it for your passwords across devices.
  • Here’s what you need to know about each separate tool.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

With a name like “Smart Lock,” you might think the Google feature has something to do with security, and is possibly powered by AI-technology. And while that’s generally true, when it comes to Smart Lock, things aren’t that simple.

That’s because, in a somewhat perplexing move, Google decided to use the name “Smart Lock” for three separate tools that apply to different things.

Here’s a breakdown of what Smart Lock does when it comes to Androids, Chromebooks, and passwords in general:

What Google Smart Lock does for Android devices

In short, Smart Lock keeps Android devices unlocked when they’re in your pocket or you’re close to home, or in another trusted location.

That means you won’t have to use your pin, pattern, or password to unlock it. To activate it, you must have a screen lock already set up. Then, follow these instructions on your Android device to turn it on:

1. Navigate to your device’s settings.

2. Tap Security and Location, then select “Smart Lock.”

3. Enter your screen lock pin, pattern, or password.

4. Select either On-body detection, or opt to set up a trusted place (depending on your preference).

5. For on-body detection:On the next screen, simply switch that option on.

6. To set up a trusted place:Either let your phone use your current location, or turn on “high accuracy or battery-saving location mode” (you’ll want to have Wi-Fi access for either option).

What Google Smart Lock does for Chromebooks

For those with Chromebooks, Smart Lock allows you to unlock your laptop using your Android device. You can also send and receive texts from your Chromebook.

Acer chromebook r11AcerYou can use Google Smart Lock to unlock your Chromebook using an Android device.

You’ll need to have Chrome OS version 71 or newer, Android version L-MR1 or newer, and you need to be signed into your Google account on both devices.

Assuming you meet those requirements, here’s how to turn it on:

1. At the bottom right of your Chromebook’s screen, select the time.

2. Select “Settings.”

3. Under “Connected Devices,” choose the “Set up” option next to your Android device.

4. Enter your password and follow the steps when prompted (you’ll get a confirmation message on your phone).

5. Under “Enabled” select the options you want to turn on.

You may get a prompt to set this up, in which case you’ll only need to select “Accept and Continue” followed by “Done.” You’ll then get a confirmation message.

What Google Smart Lock does for passwords in general

Google Smart Lock can also sync your passwords across your various devices. So, provided it’s on, you’ll easily be able to sign into your Chrome browser or Android device.

On both Chrome and Android devices, the option to offer to save passwords is automatically turned on.

For those on Chrome, you can manage your passwords by going to your Google account, then select “Security” in the left sidebar followed by “Password Manager.” From there, you’ll be able to see, change or remove passwords that have been saved to your Google account.

2 GOOGLE SMART LOCKDevon Delfino/Business InsiderGoogle Smart Lock also refers to the password manager used by Google Chrome.

On an Android device, you’ll manage your passwords by going to your “Settings,” and clicking on “Google” then “Google Account.” Next, tap “Security.” Under “Signing into other sites,” select “Saved Passwords.” You can block certain sites or apps from saving your passwords under the section titled “Blocked.”

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