Chromebooks could get 'unlock by phone' feature

Chromebooks could get 'unlock by phone' feature

Summary: Google software engineers are working on an update for Chrome OS that would allow users to unlock the OS using a phone, watch or other electronic devices.

TOPICS: Hardware

Google is working on technology that could allow Chromebook owners to unlock their computer using their phone.

Google software engineers are developing the API, called chrome.screenlockPrivate, for Chrome OS — the Linux-based operating system used on Chromebooks.

The interface would allow devices to authenticate the user and unlock the OS over USB, NFC or Bluetooth.

By removing the need to enter a password to unlock a device, Google engineers are hoping to improve the security of machines running Chrome OS, reasoning that more people are likely to lock their computer if unlocking it is simple.

The software interface would allow Chromebook users to unlock their machine without having to key in a password and instead use a phone or other trusted electronic device, such as a watch or badge.

Users would unlock their machine via a simple gesture, for instance tapping a badge against an NFC-enabled reader or pressing a button on a Bluetooth watch.

The API is in development, aiming for a stable version by 25 February next year.

Further reading

Topic: Hardware


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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  • So if someone steals both devices

    they only have to figure out how to unlock one to unlock the other. That is if the first device is even locked in the first place.
    Michael Kelly
    • It's no different than your OS passing your network credentials

      It's no different than your OS passing your network credentials when you connect to another computer. Microsoft has pushed this idea from the beginning and no one seems to have a problem with it. Crack my password on my workstation and you get access to all the servers, databases, etc that I have access to. Unless of course you choose to have different credentials for those network resources. This would be the equivalent of turning off this new feature from Google. Since many people choose to have no password or weak passwords this "unlock via device" should be a positive move toward better security. Now if you lock your phone with biometrics then security would be even better. Nothing is perfect but better security that doesn't make things harder is a positive.
  • Big deal

    We're are so conditioned and used to entering passwords that it is no big deal. And, as Mr. Kelly points out, someone getting the computer might also get the phone.