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Google clarifies that Smart Lock on Chromebooks is here to stay

Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook
(Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Update 4/15/22 6:30 PM ET: Smart Lock for Chromebooks isn't going anywhere.

What you need to know

  • Google is working on removing the ability to use Smart Lock on Chrome OS.
  • The feature allowed you to unlock your Chromebook using your phone. 
  • For now, it's only an experimental flag but could make its way to the official release soon.

According to recent Chromium Gerrit commits (via Chrome Story), Google is gearing to remove one of the most useful features on Chrome OS. Smart Lock is one of the easiest ways to unlock your Android phone and Chromebook without needing to actually enter a password. But the latest commit confirms that Google is getting rid of this functionality for Chromebook users. 

This has been a feature of Chrome OS for years and is extremely beneficial to those who own some of the best Chromebooks that don't include a built-in fingerprint scanner. With Smart Lock, after getting everything set up, you could unlock your Chromebook with ease, provided that the paired Android phone was also unlocked.

Earlier this month, Chrome Story spotted a new commit that added a "Smart Lock toggle metric" in an effort to see how many users actually take advantage of the feature. Unfortunately, it seems that whatever Google's findings were, it wasn't enough as a more recent commit reveals that Smart Lock will actually be removed. 

Smart Lock toggle metric Chromium Gerrit

(Image credit: Chromium Gerrit)

Currently, the removal of Smart Lock only comes as part of an experimental flag that will also inform users that the feature will soon be deprecated. And the worst part is that even if the flag is enabled, those who have used Smart Lock in the past will only see a single notification. 

Remove Smart Lock Settings subpage Gerrit commit

(Image credit: Chromium Gerrit)

It's unknown when Google will finally pull the plug on Smart Lock, but this is a real head-scratching move overall. Why would Google remove a feature that improves the usefulness of Chrome OS, while also providing added benefits to pairing the best Android phones with your favorite Chromebook? 

While we continue to see more and more Chromebooks released with fingerprint scanners, the truth is that there are still plenty of options out there that don't have one. And it doesn't seem that Google is planning on replacing this with a different, unannounced, feature or anything. So it's just ditching Smart Lock on Chrome OS altogether. Perhaps we could see something added to Phone Hub, but again, there has been no indication of this just yet. 

Update

Following this report, a Google spokesperson reached out saying that the company is "not sunsetting Smart Lock," and will "continue to support unlocking your Chromebook with your Android phone." Additionally, the spokesperson says that Smart Lock "is an area of active investment for ChromeOS and you can expect UI improvements to make the feature even easier to use to land soon." 

So not only will Google be getting rid of Smart Lock, but it seems that new improvements could be in store in the future.


Andrew Myrick
Andrew Myrick

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.