Google Smart Lock (also known as Android Smart Lock) was introduced in the Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system to address the problem of users constantly having to unlock their phones. You can use the Smart Lock to create scenarios and situations in which your phone will automatically unlock itself for extended periods of time. Consider this: while you’re at home, your device will remain unlocked, but while you’re at work, you’ll have to unlock it.

Despite its usefulness and Google’s emphasis on it, we encountered several instances where the smart lock did not work. The following are possible causes of the problem with your Google Smart Lock:

  • Even if you are in a trusted location, the smart lock may not unlock your device (such as your home).
  • Even when a trusted device is connected to your phone, it does not unlock.
  • The smart lock settings are completely blank, with no options.
  • Other smart lock features, such as face recognition, are not available for unlocking.

In addition to the aforementioned causes, there were a number of other variations that are not listed here. You can use the solutions listed below to address all variations of the Smart Lock not working on your Android device.

What is the cause of Google Smart Lock not working?

We received numerous reports from users that the feature was not working. We compiled all of the possible causes of this issue, and after experimenting on our own devices, we gathered all of the potential causes. Some of the reasons why Smart Lock isn’t working on your device include, but are not limited to:

  • Compass not calibrated: As you may be aware, Android uses your built-in compass to select and retrieve location. Android will not be able to determine whether you are in a trusted location if your compass is not calibrated or if there is a problem with its hardware.
  • Location accuracy: If your location accuracy is set too low, Google may fail to determine your exact location and fail to unlock your device as expected. Setting the location accuracy to a high value solves the problem.
  • A bug in Android 8 caused several users to see a ‘blank’ Smart Lock screen when they opened it. This was a known bug in Android version 8.0, and it is easily fixed if the version is updated to the most recent build.
  • Location is incorrectly set: If your location is incorrectly set (for example, your main road instead of your house), the smart lock will not unlock itself.
  • Work email is linked: When you register your device with your work email, your work policy takes precedence over all lock settings on your device, including the Smart Lock. In this case, you must delete the work email and log in with your regular Google email.
  • Multiple devices using a single Google account: If you have multiple devices using a single Google account, Google may become confused and fail to unlock any of them properly.
  • Play Services in Android are battery optimised: The modules in charge of managing Google’s smart lock are Play Services. Google recently added a feature in which applications are ‘battery optimised,’ which sleeps’ the applications when not in use. We encountered cases where Play Services were optimised and thus did not function when the user attempted to use Smart Lock.
  • Third-party applications: There have also been several reports of third-party applications interfering with the Smart Lock and causing it to fail. In this case, you must boot your computer into safe mode and then determine which one is causing the issue.
  • Bad cache partition: There may be times when your phone’s cache partition becomes corrupted or accumulated with bad data. We can try wiping it in safe mode to see if that works.

Before we begin, please ensure that you have complete access to your Android device (including the Google email and password). Before continuing, save your work.

Solution No. 1: Enabling High Location Accuracy

Before we move on to other technical workarounds, we’ll go over some basic troubleshooting techniques. The first is to ensure that your smartphone’s location accuracy is set to high. As shown below, there are several different location accuracy options available:

  • Using GPS only on a phone
  • Wi-Fi and mobile networks save battery life.
  • Wi-Fi, mobile networks, and GPS have high accuracy.

As you can see, the most precise location utility is High Accuracy, which allows users to use pinpointed locations. If your accuracy is low, Android may be unable to determine whether you are in the correct location and thus will not unlock your device. In this solution, we’ll go to your settings and enable High location accuracy.

  1. Navigate to Connections in your device’s Settings.
  2. Now, scroll down and select Location.
  3. You should be able to select a Locating Method here. Once, click it.
  4. All of the Location’s options will be displayed here. Make sure you choose High Accuracy.
  5. Save your changes and then exit. Restart your device to see if Smart Lock is working properly.

Note:Make sure that your location is always turned on for the best smart lock experience. It may not work if you leave it off or only turn it on occasionally.


Solution 2: Compass Calibration

If you are unable to use Smart Lock at your saved location, another option is to calibrate the compass on your device. The compass utility is used by all mobile devices to help the phone determine which way it is facing and where it is. The better your compass is calibrated, the more accurate you will be in Maps. The greater the accuracy of your Maps, the more likely it is that you will not have any problems with Smart Lock.

Because Android lacks a compass calibration application or option, you must do it manually. In this case, you open the Google Maps app on your device and then perform an 8 rotation as shown in the Gif above. Make sure to repeat the steps several times before attempting to use Smart Lock again.


Solution 3: Reactivate Smart Lock via Trusted Agents.

Numerous users reported (particularly those running Android 8.0) that they were unable to see the Smart Lock options on their Android devices. This was a very common problem that arose in late 2017 and is still present in Android devices today. The reason for this behaviour is that there is nothing wrong with the modules; it is simply a bug that can be easily fixed by resetting the trusted agents on your device.

A trusted agent is a service that informs the system whether or not the environment in which the device is currently located can be trusted. The agent is the only one who knows about the parameter ‘trusted,’ and it determines it using its own checks. Here, we will reset the smart lock with trusted agents to see if this solves the problem.

  1. Navigate to Lock screen and security > Other Security Settings in Settings.
  2. Scroll down until you find the Trust Agents entry. Simply click on it.
  3. Smart Lock (Google) will most likely be checked in this location
  4. Uncheck the box and restart your device entirely. Return to these settings after restarting and check the option once more.
  5. You can now try setting up a smart lock again to see if this resolves the issue.

Note:Please keep in mind that the steps shown here are for Samsung devices. You can change the steps if you have a different device.


Solution 4: Update Android to the Most Recent Build

Google Engineers discovered that Smart Lock was not working properly in smartphones. They issued an update that was specifically aimed at this situation. Google updates include new features as well as improvements to existing architectures, in addition to bug fixes. In this solution, we will go to your Settings and see if there are any pending updates.

  1. Navigate to Software update after opening the Settings app.
  2. Even if Download updates automatically is selected, you must click on Download updates manually.
  3. The Android system will now begin searching for updates automatically. If there are any, you will be prompted to download and install them.
  4. Install the updates and then verify that Smart Lock is functioning properly.


Solution 5: Using Coordinates to Locate Trusted Locations

Another workaround for making Smart Switch work is to use coordinates rather than location as you would normally. This isn’t an option in your Android system; however, a fellow techie discovered that if you disable GPS in settings and then go to trusted places to add a location, the Android system will prompt for permission. The location will be used in the form of coordinates when you grant it. You can then set the location and see if Smart Switch is working or not.

  1. As in Solution 1, navigate to the location settings. Select Battery Saver as the location.
  2. Go to Lock screen and security > Smart Lock. Now, select Trusted Locations.
  3. You may be asked for GPS permission here. If prompted, select Yes.
  4. Now, using the provided pin, select your location. When you select a location, you will be presented with coordinates rather than full addresses. Exit and save the location. Check to see if Smart Lock is working properly.


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