Don’t you hate it whenever you’re safely at home, and there’s no one else around to access your phone, and yet you still have have to unlock it whenever you want to use it? Android 5.0 Lollipop’s Smart Locks solves that. Many of you probably know the frustration, you’re listening to something like Pandora or Spotify, and you want to change the station, or give something thumbs down, or bookmark a song — whatever the case, anytime you want to do that, you have to unlock your device. Or, you just want to look something up (OK Google?), or tap out a quick text, or any number of things you do a hundred times a day. It’s even worse if you’re jogging or otherwise engaged in some vigorous activity. Have you ever tried unlocking your phone when it is in one of those protective exercise cases?
That’s because Google has completely revamped that feature as part of the new Smart Lock system. There are currently three features in Smart Lock—trusted devices, trusted face, and trusted places. That last one is still rolling out via a Google Play Services update, though. All these options are used to bypass your pin, pattern, or password, temporarily defaulting back to the simple swipe-up unlock gesture.
Trusted devices lets you specify a Bluetooth device or NFC tag that will keep the phone unlocked when the phone is connected to it. Trusted face takes the place of face unlock, but the setup process is much the same. You position the viewfinder so it can see your face and wait a moment. When you wake the phone, it can look for your face in the background while you check out the notifications on the lock screen. If it spots you, the lock screen switches on the fly to a simple swipe. You'll see the little padlock icon at the bottom change to show that it's unlocked. It’s very clever.
The new feature adds “trusted places” to your list of options for keeping your phone unlocked. What is a “trusted place?” This could be your work or home or significant other’s apartment or the dog park. A trusted place is a location where you would like to be able to quickly unlock your phone or tablet without needing to enter the PIN, password or pattern that you have active. Of course, the beauty in using a trusted place is that once you leave a trusted location, your phone turns security back on.
For example, let’s say you have both your home and work set as trusted places. When you are at home in the morning or evening, or at work during the day, you could have your phone recognize this and leave your phone open for quick unlocking. But, let’s say you stop off for morning coffee on your way to work, take a cab ride to a meeting across town, or hit the gym in between all of that and forget your phone at any of those locations. Your phone will recognize all of the above as not being “trusted” and will switch your PIN, pattern, or password back on to help secure your phone. Basically, whenever you aren’t in a trusted place, your phone will remain locked and require a secure login. Make sense?
Setting up a location for Smart Lock is simple, following the some steps , just with a new option listed under Smart Lock settings.
- Launch the Settings app.
- Select Security from the list.
- Tap Smart Lock followed by Trusted Places.
If Trusted Places isn't an option, you'll need to wait until the Play Services update is pushed to your device (or use Google to find a download link should you be open to sideloading it.)
If you've entered your Home and Work locations into Google Maps or Google Now, they'll be listed with a toggle switch next to each one. Additionally, you can add more locations by tapping on "add trusted place" and using an interactive map.
Again, as long as you remain inside the invisible barrier of a trusted place your device will remain unlocked. Once you leave your device will lock itself automagically, keeping your information secure.
A word of advice: only create trusted places for places you, well, trust. Meaning, don't set your favorite retail store or park as a trusted place. Keep it to your home, a significant other's place