It looks like Google is getting rid of its SmartLock feature, which was an integral part of the Chromebook. SmartLock allowed users to unlock a Chromebook by using their Android phone via Bluetooth to connect to their computer.
But according to Chromium repository entries (via Chrome Story), Google believes this feature is not relevant for Chrome OS. The team used a tracker to find out the total number of users who had enabled SmartLock, and seeing that it wasn’t being used at all, they then pushed an update that added a sign-in drop flag. SmartLock, as well as notify users who have used the feature in the past of the pending change.
An edit comment confirmed that this is actually an actual removal of SmartLock and not just a temporary disablement for an update. The comment reads: “Since we removed the login with the Smart Lock feature, we no longer need this sub-page.”
Google hasn’t made an official announcement regarding the issue, so it’s best to wait before taking this as gospel truth.
Analysis: Will we miss SmartLock? Probably not, but Chromebooks should work better without it
SmartLock may be on its way out, but it doesn’t seem like too many people would notice even if it did. If Google’s tracking numbers are correct and the feature has barely been used, then having an extra feature isn’t just useless, it’s probably detrimental.
In systems with nested components and functionality like computers, anything extra and unused obviously doesn’t add value, but it also forces the developer, and even the computer itself, to consider this functionality in everything he does.
If the Chromebook is always looking for an Android phone that might unlock it, but rarely if ever does, it’s wasting power and possibly battery life. Also, any superfluous functionality could degrade the performance of other functionality elsewhere, or even break it, so it’s not worth keeping a barely used feature “just in case”.
And while it’s not official that the SmartLock feature is going away, it really should be if it’s not being used, because removing it can only improve Chromebook performance.