You Will Soon Unlock Chromebook with Your Phone

The Chrome OS team is working on a new API that will allow apps to lock and unlock the screen, communicating with a trusted external device. And that means when it is ready, you will unlock your Chromebook with a smartphone or smart watch.

The API

According to the proposal document,

This API allows Chrome Apps to lock or unlock the screen on ChromeOS, monitor when the screen is locked or unlocked by other means, and show messages to the user if the app decides not to unlock the screen for some reason.The easier it is to unlock a screen, the more likely it is that a user will lock it in the first place.

The most interesting part of the proposal is one of the use cases given as example, says François Beaufort:

A platform app may use the USB, NFC, and/or Bluetooth APIs to communicate with a secondary trusted device such as a phone, ring, watch, or badge, thereby allowing that trusted device to serve as an alternative form of authentication for the user.

So imagine this, you install an app on your Chromebook and another on your Android phone or tablet, set them up or “pair” them. Later, you can tap the smartphone on your Chromebook (provided both have NFC) and you unlock the Chromebook with that tap.

We Have Seen Something Similar in the Past

Yes, remember this: Google Testing 2 Step Authentication with Chrome OS + Android + Bluetooth?. That was an Android app that connects to Chromebook via Bluetooth to authenticate. The new API however has a wider canvas. By introducing a new API, Chrome OS team wants your Chromebook to interact with smartphones and the upcoming wave of wearable computing.

2014 is going to be totally exciting!

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