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It seems that Google is getting rid of its SmartLock feature, which was a signature part of the Chromebook. SmartLock allowed users to unlock a Chromebook by using their Android phone via Bluetooth to sign in to their computer.

But according to entries in the Chromium Repository (via Chrome Story) Google believes this feature to be irrelevant to Chrome OS. The team used a tracker to find out the total number of users who had SmartLock enabled, and seeing that it wasn’t being used much at all, they then pushed down an update that added a SmartLock sign-in removal flag, as well as notifying users who used the feature in the past of the pending change.

A change comment confirmed that this is, in fact, an actual removal of SmartLock and not simply a temporary disabling for an update. The comment reads: “Since we are removing the sign-in with Smart Lock feature, we no longer need this subpage.”

Google hasn’t made an official announcement concerning the issue, so it’s best to wait before taking this as the gospel truth.


Analysis: will SmartLock be missed? Probably not, but Chromebooks should run better without it

SmartLock might be on the way out, but it doesn’t look like too many people would even notice if it did. If Google’s tracking figures are right and the feature was barely used, then having an extra feature isn’t just pointless, it’s probably detrimental.

In systems with interlocking components and features like computers, anything extra and unused obviously doesn’t add value, but what it also does is force the developer, and even the computer itself, to factor that feature into whatever it is doing.

If the Chromebook is always looking for an Android phone that might unlock it but which rarely, if ever, actually does so, then it is wasted energy and possibly battery life. What’s more, any extraneous features could degrade the performance of other features elsewhere, or even break them, so its not worth keeping around a barely used feature “just in case.”

And while it’s not official that the SmartLock feature is going away, it really should if it’s not being used, since removing it can only make Chromebooks perform better as a result.

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