Google has had a busy last week with lots of big announcements made at its Developer Conference, but one feature that hasn’t been talked much about is the revamped Google Password Manager. The password manager, which was pretty useless for a long time and simply allowed you to save passwords you entered on a site for reuse later has now been integrated into Google’s Smart Lock service.
Google Smart Lock
Google Smart Lock is a service that is used on Android phones to unlock them if you had it connected to a trusted, device, location, face, or voice.
Smart Lock for Passwords works by offering to save passwords for you so that unlock apps and sites the next time is a breeze. If you have saved a password in Chrome, the corresponding Android app will let you in. And when you save your password in an Android app, you can sign in to the same service on your Chrome or other Android devices just as easily.
In Android, you can go to Settings-> Security-> Smart Lock to set the options on how your device can keep your data safe.
If you have a Chromebook, just head over to Settings-> Advanced-> Smart Lock for Chromebook and follow the instructions to get your Chromebook to connect with your Android phone for the first time. Then the next time you open your Chromebook with your Android phone nearby and unlocked, you can get pass the Chromebook sign-in screen with just a click.
Google Smart Lock Features
Manage Passwords: You can now effectively manage all your passwords by heading over to passwords.google.com. The section contains a list of all the passwords you saved on your Chrome browser and is protected by Google’s two factor authentication. It’s a smart move to enable it if you haven’t, and you can find more details on how to do it here. Once enabled, you will have to re-enter your account password to access the list.
Save App Passwords: While the Google Password manager previously only allowed you to save passwords for websites, with Smart Lock integration it is now possible to save passwords in some apps as well. For instance, LinkedIn, Netflix, and New York Times are just some of the apps that have integrated this feature with more apps to follow suit.
Auto Sign to Apps: You can now automatically be signed in to apps (that support the feature) to avoid logging in every time you want to open the app. You can turn off auto log-in by going to the Google Settings app on your Android, selecting Smart Lock Passwords and turning off the Auto sign-in feature.
How to Manage Passwords for Apps and Websites with Smart Lock
Smart Lock for Passwords is set to be On by default. If you want to turn it off or turn off any particular feature of it:
1. On Android open the Google Settings app.
2. Tap Smart Lock for Passwords.
3. You can turn the following settings on or off for the following:
- Smart Lock Passwords: This option allows you to save passwords for native apps and websites in your Google Account. This will allow for easier logging in through Google+ or Facebook across your devices.
- Auto sign-in: Automatically signs in to apps and websites connected to your Google Account on all your devices.
How to Manage Passwords for Specific Apps and Websites with Smart Lock
You can choose to NOT save passwords for specific apps installed on your device or websites. When you are prompted to save a password with Smart Lock, you have to select the No thanks option to never save that password. You can always view and change this option on your Andriod:
1. Open the Google Settings app.
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2. Tap Smart Lock for Passwords.
3. Scroll down to the Never save section and tap the Add site or app not to be saved option.
4. Tap an app to add it to this list.
Advantages of Smart Lock Over Other Password Managers
Google Smart Lock is more than just a password manager. It is more of an identity solution that uses a range of cross reference points across devices to make sure you are the right person accessing your account. It uses factors such as Bluetooth, two factor verification, your voice and such to establish and confirm your identity.
If you are a regular Google user and login to many of your online accounts using your Google credentials, using Smart Lock will make your job down right easy and convenient.
Password syncing makes it easy access them across devices. This means that if you don't use a PIN or password lock on your phone, they become vulnerable to anyone who accesses your phone. However, you have the advantage of using the Trust features to unlock your phone without any inconveniences when you set up a PIN or password.
Smart Lock, as I mentioned earlier is not exactly a password manager. So you won't find any password generators, should you want to quickly churn out a long complicated password for one of your new or existing accounts.
Unlike other password managers like LastPass, which can store a host of other information such as credit cards, secure notes and other sensitive information, Smart Lock does not allow for any other data storage.
Password Managers like LassPass (which is also our app of choice) may be premium but they offer plenty of great features, are easy to use and make password management a breeze. Smart Lock for Passwords is free, but is also limited in functionality and use.
If you don’t want to spend on a premium password manager and spend most of your time on Chrome or Android, the Google Password Manager app Smart Lock is definitely worth checking out. It is much improved over previous managers and is definitely way better than not using a password manager at all.