Google Adds New Features for Tracking Phones to 'My Account' Hub

Users now have another option for locating missing Android and iOS mobile devices through one of three new features added to Google's My Account hub.

Google My Account 2

Users of Google's My Account hub for setting privacy and security preferences now have three additional options for accessing their controls and protecting their data.

One of the new features gives users an additional way to locate their lost or misplaced Android and iOS devices. The other two features offer users new ways to access their My Account page.

The announcements mark the first anniversary of Google's launch of My Account, a portal that gives users a way to centrally manage permissions and settings for safeguarding their privacy and data when using Google services.

My Account lets users control passwords and access to their accounts and to set their preferences regarding what information they are comfortable with sharing and what they want to keep private.

Since its launch a year ago, more than 1 billion users worldwide have accessed My Account to set their privacy and security preferences, said Guemmy Kim, product manager of account controls and settings at Google, in a blog post this week.

The new features build on those capabilities by giving users additional options for managing their data.

Google's new Find Your Phone option lets users locate lost or misplaced Android and iOS devices from their My Accounts page. Users can either call their phone or locate their device on Google Maps by using this option.

In addition, Find Your Phone gives users the option of remotely locking their devices, notifying their carrier, leaving a callback number or erasing the device completely to prevent data from being stolen.

Find Your Phone can be used to locate missing Android or IOS phones that are registered with Google. According to Kim, the company soon plans to introduce a capability that will let users access their Find Your Phone control simply by entering "I lost my phone" in Google Search.

Millions of phones are stolen each year in the United States while countless other devices are lost or misplaced, Kim said. The new controls make it easier for users to figure out where to start, if a device goes missing, Kim noted.

The new feature adds to the options Android users already have for recovering missing smartphones and tablets. The Android Device Manager app, available via the Google Play store for instance, already lets users call or locate their missing device in much the same way as the new Find Your Phone feature does.

Like the new feature, Android Device Manager includes features that allow users to remotely lock their missing device or to erase data from it.

Google also has added a capability that lets users access My Account by using their voice. To do so, a user has to only say, "OK Google, show me my Google account," to go directly to it, Kim said.

The feature currently is available only in English but soon is slated to be available in other languages as well. According to Kim, Google decided to add voice as an option for accessing My Account because of the proliferating number of mobile voice searches on Google.

Starting sometime in the next few months, Google also plans to give users the ability to access their My Account page by simply searching for it on Google. Users who are signed in to Google will see a shortcut to their My Account page in the search results, Kim said.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.