What you need to know
- We now have a pretty good idea of how the upcoming Watch Unlock will work.
- The feature requires an unlocked Wear OS watch to be within close proximity to an Android 14 device.
- Ahead of the Pixel Watch 2 release, Google will likely roll out the Watch Unlock feature soon.
Watch Unlock is expected to arrive very soon for Wear OS and Android devices, and we now have a better look at how the feature will work.
According to 9to5Google's APK Insight team, there are a couple of ways to enable the Watch Unlock feature: It can be done via the Pixel Watch mobile app by heading to Watch preferences > Settings. If you own a Pixel device, you can head to Settings (Android 14) > Security & privacy > Watch Unlock. Users could also receive a notification prompt suggesting they set up the feature.
The screenshots shared by 9to5 of the process show us what the Watch Unlock feature is about and how it will work, indicating that it's another convenient way to unlock your phone.
Your Pixel Watch needs to be in an unlocked state and within the reach of your phone. When the phone gets unlocked via this feature, users will be notified with a prompt on the Pixel Watch; if the unlock wasn't intentional, they will be able to lock the phone again by tapping the same notification on their wrists. It is particularly useful in scenarios where your fingers are wet or the alternative face authentication is not recognized.
While it is a convenient feature in certain scenarios, it appears less secure than your conventional face, fingerprint, PIN, and password authentication options. The feature could accidentally unlock your phone even if the watch isn't set on your wrist and stays in your phone's proximity area. That said, the watch has to be rather close to your phone for it to unlock, making it a little more secure than the Smart Unlock (Extend Unlock) feature, which uses the "Trusted devices, places, and on-body detection" to keep your phone unlocked.
One concern about the feature is that it may eat up additional battery life on the Pixel Watch with the feature being continuously enabled, something users may want to prioritize. Still, it's still a convenient way just to swipe up the screen or tap a notification on the watch to get your Android device.
9to5 says the Watch Unlock is surprisingly fast, even faster than the conventional Face Unlock feature on Pixel devices like the Pixel 7 Pro. Users will also be alerted when the phone has been unlocked thanks to haptic feedback on the device accompanied by the on-watch notification.
The ability to unlock your phone with the watch is just in time for the Pixel Watch 2 launch, which is merely weeks away. Additionally, Wear OS 4 for Galaxy Watch users could allow them to see the useful feature whenever the update rolls out. Finally, the Watch Unlock feature wouldn't be just limited to unlocking your phone; it may venture into Android tablets and Chromebooks in the near future.
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Vishnu works as a freelance News Writer for Android Central. For the past four years, he's been writing about consumer technology, primarily involving smartphones, laptops, and every other gizmo connected to the Internet. When he is away from keyboard, you can see him going on a long drive or chilling on a couch binge-watching some crime series.