The Chromium OS team is working on implementing password-free screen unlock. A proposal for a new Chrome API called “chrome.screenlockPrivate” has been made recently.
This API aims to allow Chrome Apps to lock or unlock the screen on Chrome OS, monitor when the screen is locked or unlocked by other means, and show messages to the user if the app decides not to unlock the screen for some reason.
Apps may be able to use USB, NFC, and/or Bluetooth to communicate with a secondary trusted device such as a smartphone, ring, watch, tag or badge. Eventually, the API might be extended so a user can use pattern unlock instead of strings. Also people might also want to use apps to login instead of just unlock.
All said and done, one question remains unanswered. Why?
Chrome OS is primarily available on Chromebooks which are portable computing machines. If I have to work, I will be near the device and there is no productivity loss or need to have another device to actually verify.
The USB implementation is limited to USB biometric devices, since connecting to smartphone/watch/Ring with a USB cable is more tedious than typing a password. The NFC support is still in works so that implementation is reserved for the upcoming Chrome devices. The Bluetooth implementation will work with the current generation of Chromebooks using a smart watch or phone.
This kind of implementation is more logical in an office where hours need to be clocked.
The monitoring part, about when the screen is unlocked & locked or using biometric authentication, is perfectly suited for such purposes. And the fact that it’s an API, a company can easily create an app and use a combination of device and receiver to verify effective “productivity” of an employee. That would be very effective if the organisation uses Chromeboxes or if the employee is working from home on a Chromebook.
Other possibilities are around wearable gears like smart watches or Google Glass. It may be possible that Chrome devices can be paired with smart devices and if you get a notification for a mail on your smartwatch you can unlock the Chromeboo, respond to the mail and go back to watching the film or what ever you were doing without having to unlock or lock the screen. There can be many such possibilties of such a feature.
So is ChromeOS gearing itself towards productivity?