Mobility

Keep your Chromebook unlocked with Lollipop Smart Lock

Jack Wallen walks you through the steps for setting up Google Smart Lock so you can keep your Chromebook unlocked with your Android 5.0 smartphone nearby.

Smart Lock

For many users, keeping your devices locked is a means to a secure end. It's necessary. You have sensitive data that can't fall into the wrong hands. But sometimes you don't want to have to keep entering your password to unlock that device. That's what Google assumed when they created Smart Lock.

This new system allows you pair your Chrome OS device (running at least Chrome OS 40) with an Android smartphone (running Android 5.0 or later) such that when the Android device is within Bluetooth range, the Chrome OS device will remain unlocked.

Pay attention to these notes:

  • You can use Smart Lock for Chrome with one Android phone (phone must have a lock screen, be unlocked, and be within Bluetooth range)
  • Bluetooth range can reach over 100 feet (so your Chromebook can remained unlocked from over 100 feet away)
  • Both devices must have Bluetooth switched on
  • Both devices must be on the same wireless networks
  • This feature is very much in beta, so it's hit and miss and doesn't work with all devices
  • Your Android device must have version 5.x and the Chromebook must be on the Beta channel (to change to the Beta channel, open Settings | About Chrome OS | More info | Change channel, and then select Beta)

Let's walk through the process of setting up Smart Lock on your Chrome OS device. I'll be working with an Acer C720 Chromebook and a Verizon-branded HTC M8 running Android 5.0.

The first thing you must do (something you won't find mentioned in any of the Google documentation) is enable Smart Lock on your smartphone. If it's not enabled, the Chromebook won't be able to located your device for the pairing. To do this, go to Settings | Trust Agents, and tap to enable Smart Lock (Google). Once this is on, you can then move to the Chromebook and start the setup.

On the Chromebook, open up Settings. Scroll down and tap Show advanced settings. Locate Smart Lock and click Set up Smart Lock (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

Locating Smart Lock settings on Chrome OS.

You'll then be required to log back into your Chromebook (to make sure it's really you). A new pop-up window will appear. Click on the Find your phone button (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

Time to find the phone.

You should then see your phone listed and the Find your phone button changed to Use this phone (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C

Smart Lock has found your device.

Click Use this phone, and the devices will be paired. You can click Try it out to see how it works. You should immediately see the lock screen with a special gold lock under your login photo. If you now unlock your smartphone, you'll be prompted to click on your photo, and your Chromebook will unlock. Click Done, and you're ready to enjoy password-free Chromebook entry—as long as your smartphone is within Bluetooth range.

For users who need quicker access to their Chromebooks, and happen to have a smartphone with Android 5.0, setting up Smart Lock makes perfect sense.

Do you pair your devices for such features? Is there another pairing that you'd like to see Google add to the Android/Chromebook ecosystem? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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