Image source: Google

Enhanced accessibility: Using the Pixel Watch as your phone’s key

A new update to the Pixel Watch has introduced a useful feature: the ability to unlock a Pixel phone using the watch itself. This functionality not only adds convenience but also provides a quick and secure way to access the phone. It is especially useful in situations where traditional methods like face recognition or fingerprint scanning are not feasible.

Mixed user experiences

Feedback from users on social media indicates a largely positive reception of this feature. Many appreciate the ease of access it provides, especially when their hands are full or when wearing gloves, making traditional unlocking methods cumbersome. The watch’s proximity to the phone ensures security, as the phone remains locked when the timepiece is not nearby, adding an extra layer of protection.

But there have also been challenges. A notable issue faced by some users is a ‘bring watch closer’ error. This error occurs when the watch, despite being near the phone, fails to unlock it. Additionally, some users have encountered a message stating ‘Unavailable when trust agent is off’, indicating a reliance on certain services or settings that may not be activated or updated.

To overcome these hurdles, users have discovered effective solutions. Keeping both the Pixel Watch and phone updated with the latest software has been a key step. Furthermore, adjusting the Trust Agent settings in the phone’s security options has been crucial for smooth operation.

Interestingly, users have noted that this feature does not significantly impact the battery life of the Pixel Watch. This is a relief given the device’s already limited battery duration. The feature is accessible through the ‘extend unlock’ setting on the watch. This setting, previously known as ‘smart lock’, allowed users to set locations where their phone would remain unlocked, or stay unlocked when connected to a device like a smartwatch. Essentially, under certain conditions, the phone would operate as if it had no password or pin.

The ‘watch unlock’ function takes this a step further. It allows the phone to be unlocked whenever the watch is within range, eliminating the need for a pin or password each time. ‘Extend Unlock’ maintains the phone’s unlocked state under specific conditions once the user has already unlocked it. In contrast, ‘watch unlock’ actively unlocks the phone.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

A user shared a valuable tip for those experiencing issues: enabling Location on the phone. This step, not explicitly mentioned in Google’s documentation, seems necessary for the proximity-based feature to function correctly.

December 2023 update: Enhancements and fixes

The December 2023 software update for the Pixel Watch, as announced by the Google Pixel Watch Support Team, brought this feature to life. Alongside the unlocking functionality, the update included various bug fixes and performance updates. Notably, it addressed the issue of image retention on the Pixel Watch 2. The update also introduces new apps and features, including Call Screen, new watch faces, and complications for the first-gen Pixel Watch.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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