Chromebooks Are About to Lose Their Most Convenient Sign-In Feature

Someone using their Android phone and a Chromebook.
Konstantin Savusia/

For over half a decade, savvy Chromebook users have logged into their laptops using nothing but their Android phone. But this passwordless sign-in feature, called Smart Lock, is about to disappear. And it doesn’t look like Google has a replacement in the works.

As reported by Chrome Story, a new Chrome OS flag disables Smart Lock sign-in and gives users a one-time notification explaining that the feature is no longer supported. These were published on April 14th at Chromium Gerrit, the collaboration platform for Chromium developers.

A Chrome Gerrit comment starting that Google is "removing the sign in with Smart Lock feature."

If that’s not enough, a Chromium Gerrit comment unceremoniously states that “we are removing the sign in with Smart Lock feature.” Developers on the platform make no mention of a Smart Lock replacement, which is disappointing.

We’re not sure why Google is removing Smart Lock. Our best guess is that the company doesn’t see a reason to support it anymore. On April 11th, Google introduced some Chrome OS code to track how many people use Smart Lock—maybe it wasn’t satisfied with the results. Smart Lock likely requires maintenance to patch bugs and security flaws, and that maintenance isn’t worth the effort if it only benefits a handful of people.

On the bright side, many new Chromebooks come with fingerprint readers. But if you’re a Smart Lock user, prepare to start typing in your password.

Source: Chrome Story