At CES 2023, Google showed the world a new feature at its booth that lets you keep your smartphone unlocked more securely when you wear your smartwatch. Until now, you could only keep your phone unlocked with a trusted Bluetooth device via the Smart Lock feature. However, it had an issue: your smartphone stays unlocked as long as your watch is connected, even when you’re not wearing it or the gear itself is not unlocked. To cope with this problem, Google showcased a new Active Unlock option during CES in Las Vegas, Watch Unlock.
With Android 13, the company introduced the Active Unlock API, adding an additional second layer of security to Smart Lock. Unlike the latter, it requires you to authenticate yourself on your wearable, and your smartphone only stays unlocked as long as you’re wearing your smartwatch on your wrist.
Folks over at Android Police witnessed this on the show floor and confirmed with Google that you need to wear the watch for this feature to work. A statement at the demo setup reads: “Now you can sign into your phone simply by having your watch nearby.” Furthermore, the report also mentions that the Watch Unlock only offers “tier 1 security access” to your smartphone. It means the feature needs to be more secure to verify your identity to make a contactless payment or let you sign into an app using Watch Unlock.
Keep in mind that Google has yet to make an announcement about this, despite the fact that the company promoted it at CES. That could imply that the feature is undergoing testing, and you might have to wait until the Google I/O 2023 developer conference in May to release it. However, with Google being so forthcoming about it, we’ll see a release sooner or later.