As Chromebook owners know, there are two ways to unlock their device: pairing it with a smartphone and logging in using the mobile device's authentication mechanism, or typing in their Google password.
The first method works great especially for (you guessed it) Android users, but iPhone or Windows Phone owners have less of a good time using it. The second also has the potential of being a breeze, except for those who made a point out of securing themselves behind a long and convoluted Google password.
So, what is the best solution for a non-Android user?
Well, there is always the risky alternative of writing your password on a piece of paper or emailing it to yourself, or have it as a note stored strategically in your phone. Or you could switch your password with something more memorable, such as your birth year. Now, seriously, please don't do that!
Google wants users to be safe so it is working on giving them a PIN-based method to unlock their laptops.
Keep in mind that entering the long password as you boot up the Chromebook for the first time still remains in effect. However, Google's new method should make it quicker to unlock it after pulling the lid down.
Admittedly, four-digit PINs are easier to brute-force than a password that depends on Google's security mechanisms, but that implies that the hacker is able to maintain the Chromebook in an "on but locked" mode. Should the laptop reset or power off during the malicious process, the hacker would find it much harder to crack it up.
A recent Google+ post tells users how they can tap into the new feature.
First off, know that only the Devs have access to it for now, as it is still an experimental feature.
Those who want to test it must enable the flag chrome://flags/#quick-unlock-pin, followed by a restart of Chrome.
The next step is to open up the Settings page of Chrome Material Design and choose a Lock Screen PIN from the section labeled "Screen Lock." After you complete this step, lock your screen and enjoy the unlock experience.
"Quick unlock settings will also land in the regular Chrome settings page soon," says François Beaufort, Google's "happiness evangelist" and author of the Google+ post.
Some speculate that Google could allow users to log in to their laptops by using a PIN sometime in the future. The initiative would help a lot of people, but it is loaded with security concerns. Should it come to pass, we will be the first to let you know.
Meanwhile, Google is looking into non-typing login methods, and you can read all about it in our coverage.