Is this Android's most obscure but useful feature?

Would you like to spend less time unlocking your Android smartphone? Android has you covered.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

The more I play with Android, the more I keep finding new things that I just don't see people using. It's a bit like iOS on the iPhone -- people use a certain set of features, but don't often go digging into the settings looking for something new and hidden to play with.

For me, this is the fun part of tech.

One such feature built into Android is called Smart Lock, and it's literally been around for ages (since Android 5.0), and it's a great way of eliminating the hassles associated with unlocking your smartphone the whole time.

First, you need to find Smart Lock. I've seen it buried in a number of places. Settings > Security & location, Settings > General > Lock Screen & Security or Settings > Security are the most common. You may have to go hunting!

Once you've found it, you'll need to enter your passcode and you'll be presented with a number of options depending on your device:

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  • On-body detection: This detects when you're carrying your phone and moving and keeps it unlocked, and automatically locks your handset when you put it down.
  • Trusted places: Assign a location where your handset is unlocked.
  • Trusted devices: Keeps your handset unlocked when it is close to a trusted Bluetooth device (Bluetooth has an effective range of some 10 meters or so).
  • Trusted face: Set up facial recognition to unlock.

Android Smart Lock -- in pictures

Just choose one and you'll be guided through the process of setting it up. With Trusted places and Trusted devices, you can set up multiple locations or devices.

Of these, I have to admit that I'm a bit wary of on-body detection because if someone were to grab my unlocked smartphone and make a swift getaway, it would remain unlocked.

Also, given how sophisticated Face ID is on the iPhone and how basic the Android equivalent is, I'd also give this a miss.

But the other two are great. One allows you to keep the handset unlocked is specific places, and the other unlocked when on the move as long as it's connected to a Bluetooth device such as headphones or smartwatch (and if someone were to leg it with your unlocked smartphone, it would lock as soon as it goes out of range).

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