Keep your phone unlocked near you


WITH ALL THE HYPE AROUND PHONE SECURITY THIS MAY SOUND A BIT STRANGE: YOU NEED TO RELAX A BIT. Not when you’re commuting by public transport or when you’re out on the town, but rather when you’re at home or at your office desk.

Android phones are cleverly designed to save you from having to continually unlock the phone when you’re in a safe space. This feature is called Smart Lock. Sometimes, when pairing a new Bluetooth device, you’ll be prompted to activate Smart Lock. Otherwise, you need to find it in your phone settings, usually under the Security settings. Smart Lock works in four different ways:

SMART LOCK 1: Trusted devices

Every Bluetooth device connected to your phone can be Smart Lock-enabled. Under this setting, you’ll see a list of all the Bluetooth devices you have connected. Choose one or more of the devices, and add it to the Smart Lock list. This way, when you’re using your headphones, speaker or smartwatch, the phone knows that you are its legitimate user, and will keep itself unlocked.

One of the most handy applications is activating Smart Lock when you’re connected to your car stereo. We don’t support you using your phone while driving, but in a world of rear-mounted fingerprint sensors, it is better to have the phone unlocked in the car when you’re trying to use Google Maps, for example.

SMART LOCK 2: Trusted places

In this setting, you can add the street address of your home or your office and, by using its GPS and WiFi sensors, the phone knows when you’re in one of these secure locations and remains unlocked. You can add more places simply by typing in more street addresses.

Alternatively, the on-screen perimeter tool creates a large zone of 80 metres around your present location where the phone will remain unlocked. If you are setting this up at your office desk, remember that the phone will be unlocked even on the streets around your office block, where you could still be pickpocketed.

SMART LOCK 3: On-body detection

By turning this setting on, the phone uses its accelerometer sensor to judge if you’re moving about with the phone on your person, or if you’ve put it down. If you’re moving, it keeps the phone unlocked and ready to use. The danger is that you can be pickpocketed while on the move with the phone unlocked.

SMART LOCK 4: Voice Match

This is a way of speeding up your interactions with Google Assistant. Voice Match will use the ‘Okay, Google’ or ‘Hey Google’ catch phrase to wake the voice assistant and also simultaneously unlock the device. This can be especially useful for controlling your phone when driving. This option is only available if you have the Google Assistant app on your phone. When setting it up for the first time, you are prompted to train it to recognise your voice by repeating the phrase ‘Okay, Google’, several times. To make it work more reliably, you should repeat the phrase changing the pitch of your voice each time.


Screen lock on your PC

A recent update to Windows 10 included similar functionality on your PC desktop to the Smart Lock functionality on your Android phone. Called Dynamic Lock, it automatically locks Windows when your chosen Bluetooth device loses its connection with the PC. The ideal Bluetooth device to pair with the PC is your phone, because it usually leaves your desk with you. Once you’ve paired your phone on the PC, go to Settings, choose Accounts and then Sign-In options. Turn on Dynamic Lock, choose a Bluetooth device (the phone) and you’re done. Windows will lock down when the phone moves out of range.

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