Android’s Smart Lock feature is spectacular — that is, when it actually works.

Smart Lock has been around since 2014’s Android 5.0 era (which, according to my calculations, was approximately “an eternity” ago by 2020 standards). The basic idea behind it is to make securing your smartphone less inconvenient, thus making it more likely that you’ll actually use a pattern, PIN, passcode, or person-paw press (also known as a fingerprint) to keep your data safe. The sensational headlines about big, bad malware monsters lurking in the dark and waiting to pounce on unsuspecting victims may be scary, after all, but here in the real world, you’re far more likely to suffer from your own self-made security shortcomings than from any sort of theoretical threat.

So, yeah: Smart Lock makes an awful lot of sense — not just for average phone-ownin’ folk but also for enterprises and businesses of all sizes that need to enforce proper security and want to make the measures as palatable as possible. There’s just one teensy weensy little problem: One of the most effective Smart Lock options for Android is constantly breaking and failing to do its job.

I’m talking about Smart Lock’s Trusted Places feature, which lets you set a specific physical location — your home, your office, the ostrich habitat you for some reason frequent at your local zoo, or whatever — at which your phone will automatically stay unlocked. Whenever you’re at that location, your phone will skip over the standard lock screen and let you get stuff done without the need for any authentication. And when you’re anywhere else, your standard security method will show up and apply.

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The Trusted Places part of Smart Lock was fantastic when it first came along, but at some point, it just stopped working consistently. It’s something I’ve experienced with numerous Android devices, including my own current personal phone, and something I’ve heard about from Android users endlessly over the past several years. And despite the occasional proclamation that some under-the-hood adjustment has delivered the fix we’ve all been waiting for, the issue just never seems to go away.

Hold the phone, though: There’s still hope. While we may not be able to fix the finicky nature of Android’s Smart Lock Trusted Places feature at its source, we can tweak our own settings to give it a metaphorical kickstart and get it working on our devices, at least for a while, once more.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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