September 07, 2015


Lollipop Smart Locks


I have always had a passcode on my device, and you should too. Call me paranoid, but I feel the need to keep my information personal. Of course one can argue that you can always be hacked, but I like to give hackers a bit of a hard time. And besides, what’s so difficult about typing in four digits?

Well, it gets a little frustrating when you just want to check on something quickly, or are wearing thick gloves which you would have to take off. I think Google felt the same, and with Android Lollipop, they have introduced a few measures to make unlocking your device easier:

Trusted face

Face unlock has always been a feature on Samsung devices ever since Android ICS, but this time it has been improved upon by Google. There were security problems in the past because the device couldn’t distinguish between an actual face and a picture, so you could just unlock someone’s device with their picture. Lighting, too, was an issue, and still is to some extent, but the feature still works better than before.

Here’s how you set this up:

  1. In your settings, open the Security menu
  2. Find Smart Lock
  3. Open Trusted Face and follow the prompts
  4. You will know your face has been recorded after the dots around your face all turn green and display a check mark
  5. You may still experience some problems so you should record your face in different lighting conditions to improve accuracy
  6. Now you can unlock your device by just looking at it

You may still have to swipe the screen but at least you won’t need to enter the password

Trusted places

You don’t have to enter your password at home either, or any other place you feel secure. As long as you’ve got your GPS on, Android will detect your location and disable password lock. This is the feature I most like, because I can quickly unlock my device at home.

Trusted devices

If you use a device such as a smart watch or Bluetooth headset, as long as that device is within range, you won’t be required to enter your password. This is one of those mixed bags for me, I usually use my smart watch as my device is charging, and I wouldn’t want someone to bypass my security as a result. I suppose this will depend on how you use your device, for me, it’s staying off.

Oh, and you can use it with NFC too, if you’ve got wireless speakers or something. You may have to turn off the screen first before you tap in order to bypass security, so it’s a bit inefficient.

On-body detection

This feature uses your phone’s gyroscope and proximity sensors to determine whether you’re holding the phone or it’s in your pocket. This one stays on for me. I can now quickly check my messages or notes without entering a password, as long as it’s been in my pocket.

Step in the right direction?

Definitely, I appreciate Google’s efforts in making the Android experience easier to use. The face detection feature, for one, still needs a lot of work, because it has a lot of potential. However, I feel like these features are directed toward other Android models because with the Galaxy S5 and S6, the fingerprint sensor is pretty sufficient.

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