Google Unveiling Android Phone-Tracking Service

A "find your phone" service from Google is coming out later this month to help users track and find their mobile Android devices when they are misplaced.

phone finder

Google Android users who often misplace their phones can now rejoice: Google will unveil a service later in August that will allow users to track and find their lost or misplaced Android devices, even if they stuck are under furniture in the living room or under the seat of their car.

The new service, the Android Device Manager, will be available later this month on devices running Android 2.2 or above, according to an Aug. 2 post by Benjamin Poiesz, product manager for Android, on the Android Official Blog.

"Have you ever lost your phone in between the couch cushions or forgot it in a restaurant?" wrote Poiesz in the post. "Or maybe searching for your phone before you rush out the door is part of your morning routine? Later this month, the new Android Device Manager can help you out. It's one of a few simple features you can use to keep your device—and the data you store inside—safe and secure."

By using the new Android Device Manager service, device owners will be able to ring their Android phones at maximum volume so they can find it, even if it's been silenced, according to the post. "And in the event that your phone or tablet is out of earshot (say, at that restaurant you left it at last night), you can locate it on a map in real time" to find its location elsewhere.

The service will also allow device owners to quickly and securely erase all their data on the device if it has been stolen or lost permanently, according to Poiesz.

Users will have to be signed into their Google Account to activate and use the Android Device Manager service, the post states. In the future, an Android app will also be made available so that users can easily find and manage your devices through the app.

Until now, Android hasn't had a built-in way for users to track their phones if they've been lost, which has put the platform at a disadvantage over iPhones from Apple, which include software to help track a user's phone.

In the meantime, until the new Android Device Manager service begins, users can take other precautions to guard against unauthorized use if their phones are lost or stolen, according to a related Aug. 2 post by Adrian Ludwig, an Android security engineer, on the Google Official Blog.

Users can set up a screen lock, whether they are on a phone or tablet, that will lock out other users if they don't have a password, personal ID number or other information that's needed to unlock the device, wrote Ludwig. "This is important to do in case your device gets left in the back of a car, or you're worried about someone picking up your phone and scrolling through your stuff. You can lock your device with a pin, password, pattern (or even your face!) by going to Settings > Personal > Security > Screen Lock."

Users can also set up their devices to protect them from apps that might come from shady sources, wrote Ludwig. "The first time you start to install an app from an unknown source, a message will pop up asking if you'd like Google to scan the file to make sure it's not harmful. Tap "OK" to let Google help protect you from harmful apps."
In July, Google unveiled the latest version 4.3 of the Android mobile operating system, which powers the new Nexus 7 tablet that Google just announced. Android 4.3 is also rolling out now as an update to Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 and Galaxy Nexus Evolved High Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) devices around the world.