Google Assistant can do a whole lot—in fact, some of its functions are surprising. From checking traffic to playing music and videos, the Assistant can make your life more convenient.
Another nifty trick you can add to your Google Assistant arsenal is using it to unlock and lock your Android phone with your voice. Here’s how to do it.
How to Get Google Assistant on Android
Newer Android phones (typically with Android 7.0 Nougat and newer) come with Google Assistant already installed. When setting up your new phone, you simply need to enable the feature and grant the Google app the relevant permissions. If you’re not sure if it’s enabled, open your Google app and tap the three-bar Menu button. Choose Settings > Google Assistant to check.
If you have an older version of Android, Google Assistant is delivered through an automatic update. Any phone with Android Lollipop (5.0) or higher can run the app. Download the Google Assistant app from Google Play if it’s not already built into your phone.
There are a few prerequisites that can hamper or delay the update. Thus, if your phone is compatible with Assistant but you haven’t seen a prompt to activate it, you should check a few criteria first.
Firstly, make sure the language you’ve selected for your phone is one of the languages supported by Google Assistant. Currently, the app supports English, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil) and Spanish.
For English, make sure you choose US or UK English. Other variants (such as South African English) will disable the Assistant and replace it with the older Google Now.
If you have the correct language set and you still don’t see Google Assistant, make sure your Google Play Services app is up-to-date. Especially weak devices aren’t compatible with Google Assistant; you need at least 1.4 GB of memory and a 720p screen resolution.
How to Unlock Your Android Phone With Google Assistant
Unlocking your phone with Google Assistant is as easy as just saying “OK Google“. While this isn’t among the most popular “OK Google” questions and commands, it’s still a handy one to know. To do this, you will first need to set up the following:
- Register a trusted voice model with Google Assistant.
- Enable voice unlock in Assistant’s settings.
You can do both of these by opening Google Assistant and accessing its settings. To do this, tap the blue Drawer icon in Google Assistant’s interface. Select the three-dot Menu button and choose Settings. Under the Devices heading, tap your phone. Enable both Access with Voice Match and Unlock With Voice Match here.
Once enabled, you’ll be prompted to train a trusted voice model to unlock your phone. This ensures that Google Assistant will only respond to your voice when the phone is locked, rather than any person saying “OK Google.”
When you enable voice unlocking, the app will prompt you to record a few phrases. If you ever want to retrain the voice model for some reason, you will find the option within the same settings menu under Voice model > Retrain voice model.
You may want to do this if your original recording was at a low volume or in a noisy environment. For security purposes, your phone only stores one trusted voice model at a time. While you can set up multiple voice profiles on Google Home, this doesn’t apply to your smartphone.
For more help, watch our handy tutorial below which demonstrates how to set everything up:
Issues You May Encounter
Unlocking your phone with Google Assistant is not always foolproof—especially if you have other security measures on your lock screen. If your phone requires a fingerprint, pattern, face ID, or PIN, Google Assistant may only be able to wake your phone and turn on the screen, but not get past the security screen. In those cases, you’ll still need to input the security method.
You can get past this by removing the security screen, but we don’t recommend this. Rather, consider adding a delay timer to prevent your phone from locking immediately after the screen goes to sleep. This means your phone will only lock and require a security method if it is inactive for a certain amount of time.
To change this setting, head to Settings > Security & location. Tap the Gear icon next to the Screen lock entry and choose the delay under Automatically lock.
In the same menu, you can also set up Google Smart Lock. This keeps your phone from locking in trusted locations, when connected to certain Bluetooth devices, and more. You can then wake your device without needing a PIN or other security method in those cases.
If your phone has facial recognition, the process is a bit smoother. You can wake your phone hands-free, as long as your face is in the line of sight of your phone’s front-facing lens.
With so many brand-specific variations of Android, voice unlocking is not always consistent across all devices. Some phones that have security locks will automatically unlock for a trusted voice.
The most troublesome issue with some phones is that voice unlocking will not work unless the screen is already on. Luckily, Google’s recent updates to Assistant appear to address this problem on some devices thanks to the Access with Voice Match option appearing in your Assistant settings.
How to Lock Your Android Phone With Google Assistant
Locking your phone with Google Assistant is a much less glitchy affair. However, it requires a bit of setup. The app doesn’t have native functionality to lock your phone. In fact, if you try to tell Google to lock your phone, the Assistant will specifically tell you that it is unable to do this.
So how do you get around this? Use a custom command.
In Google Assistant, you can set up custom commands and command chains, dubbed Routines. Setting up custom voice commands with Routines expands the Assistant’s capabilities. Locking your phone is just one of the ways you can use this functionality.
There are a variety of apps that have the sole purpose of locking your phone. You simply need to pair one of these apps with a custom Google command. First, you need to download one.
A few options include:
You can choose whichever app you like best, as they are all quite similar and achieve the same result. Install the apps and grant them the necessary permissions. Whenever you open the app, it will switch off your screen and lock your phone.
Adding a Screen Off Command
To turn this into a hands-free option, you need to get Google Assistant to open the app for you. You can do this by opening Assistant’s Settings menu like earlier, selecting Routines, and adding a new custom command with the Plus button.
Under the header When I say, enter commands such as:
- Lock my phone
- Lock screen
- Go to sleep
Any statement will do, and you can add as many variations as you like. These are personal commands, not ones native to Google Assistant.
Under the header My Assistant should, type in Open [App name]. Include the name of whichever screen lock app you have installed. Make sure to include the whole name of the app as it appears on your phone, else it will just run a Google search. Save the command and you’re good to go.
Now, whenever you say any lock phrase, Assistant will automatically lock your screen.
Other Commands for Your Google Assistant
If you didn’t know about unlocking and locking your phone with Google Assistant, you might have missed out on some of the app’s other features. Custom commands and routines open up a whole new world of functionalities if you use the right apps.
Curious about what else Google Assistant can do? Have a look at our guide on how to use Google Assistant to add more convenience to your life.