Passwords, geez those things suck. You may not need them to login to your computer in the future, and Chromebooks might be the first PC device to offer that feature natively, according to some hints found in the developer preview channel of Chrome OS by Android Police (via 9to5Google). Early code included in the latest build suggests there will one day be a way to unlock your Chromebook just by having an Android device registered to your account nearby.
The so-called “Easy Unlock” feature already has a graphic-based, user-friendly explainer for setup and use, but it doesn’t appear to offer live functionality yet, so even if you’re running the bleeding edge dev channel build you won’t be able to do much beyond seen the new walkthrough. Still, it looks like Google has done more than just think about this in passing.
Google has been looking at ways of getting rid of the password and replacing it with physical authentication for a while now, and we reported on efforts it was taking as of January last year to create a cryptographic card that works with your computer’s USB port to let it know it’s really you. A smartphone is obviously an easier device to use for this kind of authentication than a specialized piece of hardware, and given that Google has figured out how to frustrate its own CAPTCHA software for detecting real humans, hardware alternatives could have applications beyond basic login security down the road.
This looks like it stands a good chance of making it out to the consumer release of Chrome OS, but don’t expect it to get to your Chromebook for another few months yet.