Android

How to Wi-Fi Unlock Your Android Phone With Smart Lock

Gavin Phillips Updated 04-06-2020

Because our phones have so much personal information, most people are horrified at the thought of someone fiddling with their phone. Even worse is what could happen if you lose your smartphone completely.

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Thankfully, modern devices come with multiple security options. Protecting your device while out and about is easy. But what about when you’re safely at home? Manually unlocking your phone each time you want to use it is a pain.

Android Smart Lock lets you keep your phone unlocked at all times, under certain circumstances. But can you keep your phone unlocked when connected to your home Wi-Fi network? Let’s take a look.

What Is Android Smart Lock?

Android Smart Lock first hit devices with Android 5.0 Lollipop. The Smart Lock feature allows you to specify certain circumstances where the device’s lock screen security will remain off.

You can enable and configure these options by heading to Settings > Security > Smart Lock (this may differ slightly depending on your device). Enter your PIN, then you can select the Smart Lock option you want.

It’s possible to use multiple Smart Lock methods in conjunction, too. Here’s how they work.

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On-Body Detection

With this option, after unlocking it once, your Android device will remain unlocked as long as it detects motion, such as you holding or carrying the device. Your phone will lock automatically again when put down.

On-body detection poses some security issues. The lock mechanism doesn’t always activate immediately after you put the device down. Furthermore, it can sometimes take longer if you are in a car, train, bus, or other forms of transportation.

Trusted Places

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Use this option and your Android device will remain unlocked while in the vicinity of a specific location. Once you enable Trusted Places, your device will detect its location using GPS. If the signal shows you are within the range of a specified location, it will unlock.

There are three Trusted Places modes:

  • High Accuracy: Uses your phone’s GPS, Wi-Fi connection, provider network, and more to maintain an accurate location.
  • Battery Saving: Trusted Places will use less power-intensive location tracking tools, such as your Wi-Fi connection or mobile network.
  • Device Only: Uses only GPS to update the location of your device.

Trusted Places is a handy unlocking tool. Like the other options, though, it has limitations. For example, if you live in an apartment building, Trusted Places finds it extremely difficult to differentiate between your apartment and your neighbors’ residences. Since the GPS location is almost the same and the range for the unlocking can cover multiple apartments, your device might stay unlocked outside your home.

Although Trusted Places can take your Wi-Fi connection into account, you cannot tell your phone to stay unlocked when it connects to a certain network. However, there are workarounds for this that allow you to unlock your phone when connected to a Wi-Fi network. We’ll cover more on these in a moment.

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Trusted Devices

You can keep your Android device unlocked if it has a connection to a separate trusted device. For example, you could set your smartwatch, in-car Bluetooth speakers, or fitness tracker as a trusted device. Then, while the two devices share a connection, the Android phone will remain unlocked.

Trusted Devices uses a Bluetooth connection to check Smart Lock status. If the Bluetooth connection between your devices drops for any reason, Smart Lock will disable, and your device will lock.

Voice Match

On certain Android devices, if you use Google Assistant, you can use the Voice Match option to keep your Android phone unlocked. Smart Lock recognizes the tone and inflections of your voice to create a unique unlocking tool.

If you switch on Voice Match, “OK Google” becomes the unlock tool. Check out our guide on how to use Google Assistant to lock and unlock your phone How to Lock/Unlock an Android Phone With Your Voice Using Google Assistant You can voice unlock or lock your phone using Google Assistant! Here's how to use Google's voice unlock and lock. Read More , plus the handy video walkthrough. Unfortunately, Google removed this option in Android 8 Oreo and above, but it still works on older devices.

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How to Unlock Your Phone When Connected to Wi-Fi

One glaring Android Smart Lock omission is the option to keep your device unlocked when you connect to a specific Wi-Fi network. You can work around this issue with the Automate app; here’s how to keep your Android device unlocked when connected to Wi-Fi.

Automate is a user-friendly Android automation app. You can it for our intended purpose of staying unlocked on Wi-Fi. First, download the Automate app.

Now, open Automate. Given the nature of the service (it automates everything on your device), you must accept the permissions.

Select More Flows from the options, then search for disable screen lock on home wifi. The version you want is the creation of user p s, as you can see in the below image. Select Download, then head back to the Automate homepage.

Next, select the Disable screen lock on home wifi flow from the list, tap the blue pen icon in the bottom-right, then hit the circuits icon just above. This opens the Automate flow edit screen.

Tap the third box on the left, When Wi-Fi connected. Input the Wi-Fi network’s SSID in the box. Alternatively, select Pick Network, then select the Wi-Fi network from the list.

Now, you can Start the Automate flow, and your device will remain unlocked while connected to the Wi-Fi network you specified.

If there’s another Wi-Fi network you want to stay unlocked on, you can duplicate the Automate flow by tapping the three-dot menu and selecting Duplicate. Then in the duplicated flow, switch out the Wi-Fi network SSID for another one.

Is Smart Lock Secure?

Android’s Smart Lock is a handy tool in the eternal battle between security and convenience. Using Smart Lock is a security compromise, but is it one worth making? That depends on the situation.

When you’re at home, why not keep your device unlocked? Finding your phone suddenly locked is infuriating at times. Think about if you’re cooking from a recipe or following a DIY tutorial. You glance away for a moment, only to find you need to unlock your device at a critical moment.

The key is finding the correct Smart Lock use that suits you. Unlocking your device when you connect to your home Wi-Fi is a great option for most people.

Whatever you do choose, make sure you use some form of security on your Android device. Here are some of the best Android anti-theft apps The 7 Best Android Anti-Theft Apps to Protect Your Device If your Android phone gets stolen, you'll need a way to get it back. Here are the best Android anti-theft apps. Read More to get you started.

You Can Unlock Your Device Automatically

Now that you know how to unlock your device automatically when you join a Wi-Fi connection, you can consider automating other tasks on Android. Automate is a great free app with countless community-made automation flows.

That said, Automate isn’t the only Android task automation tool. Tasker is a paid automation app that is much more powerful than Automate. Check out these Tasker tricks you can use to automate more 8 Tasker Tricks to Better Automate Your Android Phone Tasker is an extremely powerful app that lets you automate anything. Here are some procedures to make your phone smarter. Read More on your Android phone.

Related topics: Android Tips, Lockscreen, Mobile Automation, Smartphone Security.

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  1. Malki
    January 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Looking for an unlock by location (GPS) feature. I know it isn't as secure, but it helps if you don't have WiFi.

    • Erez Z
      January 12, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      This is something you can do using Tasker (paid) or Llama Location Profiles (free). Both require you to root your device, and we have written about both in the past. :)

  2. Lizz
    November 18, 2013 at 8:01 am

    What if your phone is blocked and can't connect to a WiFi

    • Erez Z
      November 18, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      In this case, I believe you will have to unlock it manually.

  3. Pablo
    September 17, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Nice one!

    unfortunately it didn't work for me, I have security rules enforced by my company (I'm assuming that's why it didn't work), but it worked like a charm with my wife's phone.

    thanks for sharing this.

    • Erez Z
      September 18, 2013 at 11:34 am

      Sure thing, and I'm glad it worked on your wife's phone!

  4. cleffty
    September 13, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    I don't use anything as I cant be bothered to type in passwords all day long.It works for me!

  5. Tom Brinkkemper
    September 13, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Nice discussion. There are more advanced apps out there doing the same thing. That's why Safe Areas is focused on people who just want it to work without reading a tutorial first. Smooth and effortless.

  6. Alex
    September 13, 2013 at 5:56 am

    Llama makes the same things for free :-)

  7. Darren R
    September 12, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I've been using Smart Locker... Works fine on my Samsung Tab and S3

  8. Joe
    September 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I really like that with Tasker I can set it to do this based on just being within range of the network. Since I use a very unique network there's not much risk in it unlocking in the wild. This helps when my wireless is flaky, but my phone can still see that it's there.

  9. Arvind
    September 12, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I use Llama who does all this automation for me, it keeps the Cell Towers at home as the decider whether or not I am at home or not. Turns off Wifi, Turns on PIN Screenlock, Turns on Data, Turns on BT (if needed) Brightness Auto and many other things on leaving Home Area. Much better free automation solution for your Android

    • Paul Werner
      September 12, 2013 at 6:18 pm

      I came here to say this same thing. Totally agree that this is much better and I think the author of this article should check out Llama (or Tasker if they want to get more advanced)

  10. James M
    September 12, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    As a possible alternative to Safe Areas described here, you could look at the Unlock With WiFi app for Android. Last time I checked, there are both free and pay versions, with the pay version adding additional features. I think the free version also limited you to one home network, so if you need multiple ones, you'd have to pay or find another app.

    Now though, I use Tasker. It has no free version, but it only costs a few dollars and it's very powerful. I was able to replace most of the other apps I had for automating things with Tasker. The only one I kept was Busy Me: Phone Silencer because it was more easily able to handle keeping sound off before and/or after scheduled times, which is a feature I need. I would definitely suggest considering Tasker, especially if you want to automate a bunch of things.

    • Dany
      September 12, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      Any tutorial to setup Tasker to do this?
      That would be very nice :-)

    • James M
      September 12, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      I'm not sure exactly where or how I found the info to set it up, but I can tell you basically what I have. In my profile called Home Unlock, I check if Wifi Connected to my home network SSID, then turn Keyguard off. I added an exit condition to turn Keyguard on, so that when I disconnect the lock screen will activate again. I think you need the Secure Settings plugin app to control the lock screen, but that should be free. In case it matters, I'll also note that my device is rooted and I'm currently still on an old device running Gingerbread, but I'm not certain if either of those affect this. You may have to look into it a little bit to find out. I hope this helps though.

    • Dany
      September 12, 2013 at 7:24 pm

      Thanks, appreciate your feedback. I'll look around a little more and start playing with Tasker to see if I can come up with something.

  11. DE
    September 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I've thought about doing this for some time now, but the one issue that's prevented it is combining the Wi-Fi with a battery saver. I'm not sure how the two would react together (and frankly, I've been far too lazy to check), but it seems a battery saver (which toggles Wi-Fi off while the screen is off) would render an app such as Safe Areas useless.
    Thoughts?

    • Erez Z
      September 12, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      I think it's a valid point. This is actually tricky as it is -- like I said, it interacts differently depending on ROMs and phones, so adding a battery saver to the mix may well make it even more finicky...

    • Tom Brinkkemper
      September 13, 2013 at 7:43 am

      Hi Erez,

      Thanks for the review! You explained my app perfectly :)
      As for the battery saver, I've build in a feature that allows for wifi to be turned off during sleepmode. It works for the build in Android sleep policy (that turns off wifi by default in sleepmode) but there are to many devices and apps to test all configuration.

      The app has been out there for a month or two and I'm working hard to solve any issues that come up. Please e-mail me if you have any issues, bugs or suggestions.