Smart Lock is Android's best-kept secret
If Google only stole one feature from Motorola, I’m happy it was this one.
The original Moto X was a glorious phone for a lot of reasons, and I loved mine to (literal) death for its clean software, Moto Voice, and also for this awesome little feature called Trusted Bluetooth. Trusted Bluetooth kept your phone unlocked so long as it stayed in connected to a trusted device, and since my headphones lived around my neck, I hardly ever unlocked my phone.
When Google sold Motorola to Lenovo, Trusted Bluetooth stayed behind and morphed into Smart Lock, gaining a few extra unlock methods and proving invaluable to many a phone with an oddly-placed or unreliable fingerprint sensor. Even today, it’s low-key my favorite Android system feature.
The Galaxy S10 is a great phone with a not-so-great fingerprint sensor, but with Smart Lock and a smartwatch, I don’t really care. I PIN unlock my phone in the morning, and then so long as I keep my smartwatch on and on me, I don’t really need to unlock my phone again all day unless I specifically choose to lock the device.
Even on days where I forget my smartwatch at home and my headphones die, Smart Lock is still helpful, though. On-body detection means that so long as my phone stays in my hand — or my holster — the phone still stays unlocked, and my phone stays unlocked while I’m at home since that is a Trusted place.
Smart Lock goes even further than Android phones these days. As part of the Better Together pairing between a Chromebook and an Android phone, your phone can keep your Chromebook unlocked with Smart Lock the same way your smartwatch keeps your phone unlocked. As a matter of fact, with Smart Lock enabled, so long as my phone has a Bluetooth connection with my watch and laptop, both my phone and Chromebooks stay unlocked most of the day — and I use this with multiple Chromebooks most days.
Granted, it’s not always the most secure thing to use (especially in public places), but I can manually lock my phone when needed, and since Smart lock reverifies on a Chromebook every time you shut the lid, even if someone walks off with my laptop, they won’t be able do anything with it. I still have security when I need it, but I’m not putting in my PIN 100 times a day.
It’s a small feature that is phenomenally useful, and while manufacturers never really tout this feature, the Android system itself makes enrolling Trusted devices a breeze. The first time you pair a Bluetooth device, Smart Lock will ask if you want to make it a Trusted device. If you want to, you tap the notification, enter your fingerprint, and tap the device you want to trust. It takes less time it does to pair the device in the first place, and that’s wonderful for me because it’s easy to get it back up and running on a new phone.
Smart Lock is security made easy, and while it’s not Fort Knox, it’s an Android feature I couldn’t live without at this point. I open my phone far too often to hassle with the S10’s fingerprint sensor, or any fingerprint sensor a hundred times a day, and this simple security feature means that I don’t have to. The only thing more mind-blowing than how easy Smart Lock is to use is the fact that over 4 years since its inclusion into stock Android, Apple still hasn’t copied it for the iPhone.
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