How to use Google Smart Lock on iOS

Learn how easy it is to log into your Google account with the Smart Lock app on iPhone without requiring two-factor authentication codes.

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The Google Smart Lock app for iOS can use your iPhone as a security key to lock your Google account for additional security beyond two-factor authentication. Instead of relying on 2FA codes from text messages or an authenticator app or a phone call, you can use your iPhone to allow access to Google accounts the first time you sign in.

This solution works very similar to the physical security keys that can now be added to iCloud accounts, except that you don’t have to buy an additional key to use it, you can use your iPhone.

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In this tutorial, I will show you how to set up this smart lock app and use it to lock your Google account’s 2FA support.

How to set up the Google Smart Lock app for iOS

The first step to setup is to download the Google Smart Lock app from the App Store.

After downloading this application, open it and sign in with your Google account. You will also be prompted to turn on push notifications. Make sure you do this, as this will notify you to accept the login attempt.

Next, you need to set up the security key for your Google account by doing the following:

Navigate to Select Security | Two-Step Verification. Choose Security Key. Choose Add Security Key. Select your iOS device that you used to sign in to the Google Smart Lock app, then go ahead and follow the instructions (Figure A).

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Figure A

Choose your iPhone as a security key even if your Google account already has physical keys configured.

Some devices do this setup automatically for you. If your device already appears in the Security Keys section, you don’t need to do anything else.

How the Google Smart Lock app for iOS works

Once the Google Smart Lock app has been registered to your Google account, you will no longer receive text messages, phone calls or need to enter a 2FA code from your code generator. If you sign in with your Google account instead, you’ll receive a push notification on your iPhone asking if you want to complete signing in (Figure B).

Figure B

Upon signing in, you will be prompted to open the Google Smart Lock app.

Just tap the notification and accept it. Your login attempt will then be approved without having to enter any further 2FA information (Figure C).

Figure C

Authenticate your device by tapping “Yes” at the login prompt.

Sign-in can be completed this way because Google trusts your device and Face ID or Touch ID is configured to protect it from unauthorized sign-in attempts.

For people who are new to 2FA, Google Smart Lock can greatly improve adoption. In addition, it can make companies that support Google for Workplaces more secure by requiring activation of this app.

For more information on how Google Smart Lock works, see the Google Smart Lock documentation.