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.
Update, 4/18/22 9:03 am Eastern: As discovered by 9to5Google, the Smart Lock feature isn’t disappearing on Chrome OS. Google is simply removing the ability to use Smart Lock when you first boot up or restart your computer. Once you sign in with a password, you can continue using an Android phone to unlock your Chromebook.
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.
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