How to Find a Lost or Stolen Android Smartphone or Tablet

When it comes to protecting your smartphone from loss or theft there’s plenty of apps in the Google Play Store, but like Apple’s Find My iPhone, Google has its own Android Device Manager users should know about.

Tracking down a lost or stolen Android smartphone or tablet can be a daunting task, not to mention trying to secure all the important and often times sensitive information that’s on our smartphones these days. While April is the highest month for mobile theft, users still need to be protected year round.

Read: How to Make Your Android Faster in 3 Easy Steps (Video)

Back in mid 2013 Google released a new service and feature called the “Android Device Manager” but it isn’t something that’s widely talked about, or even remotely advertised. However, in case of an emergency where a phone is lost or stolen you’ll want to have it up to date, enabled, and ready to use so you can wipe a stolen phone, or track down that lost device. Below we’ll go through a few of the simple steps required to do exactly that.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 2.56.13 PM

The Android Device Manager will let users locate smartphones and tablets, or remotely wipe and delete all data and information if needed. There’s also a lock feature if you’d rather not wipe all the data, but clearing your information may be the safe choice.  Then we have an option to make your device ring if you simply can’t find it, which is pretty neat. Tapping any of the choices shown below only take a second or two to activate, and you can make a phone ring or completely wipe all its contents in a matter of seconds.

The lock option will allow you sign into the Android Device Manager and actually add a password or pin for added security, in case you’re a user that doesn’t use that to begin with. This will protect a lost device from people accessing your information while you try and track it down using the locate feature. If all else fails, the nuclear “wipe all data” option is your next move.

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So if you are worried about having a smartphone or tablet get lost or stolen, read the few steps below and make sure all your devices are in the best position to be protected or saved in case of the above scenarios.

Instructions

To get started users simply need to head to www.google.com/android/devicemanager on your computer. This will instantly launch the ADM service which will let you scroll through your list of devices. Here is where you’ll need to give a device a name, find its location, or wipe all data. Find the device you’d like to interact with, and the Android Device Manager will do the rest.

ADM-list

As you can see above I have a long list of devices in my ADM. Select the one you’d like, in our case I’m looking for the Google Play Edition Galaxy S4. Once you find the device and select it you’ll be notified of your options. There’s some additional setup that may appear on your device, simply allowing location services to track the device. Hit activate and you’ll be set. You’re all done.

New devices can also easily be activated and ready to roll by heading to the Google Play Store and downloading the official Android Device Manager application. Not only will this application explain how the ADM works, let you setup the device you’ve just installed it on, but you can also manage and access other devices right from this app on a mobile device. Meaning you can use your tablet to track, find, lock, or wipe your smartphone all with the Android Device Manager.

devicemanager

As you see above you can access everything on a device as you can from the PC. This is one of the many ways a user can easily and quickly find a lost or stolen smartphone.

Find Your Lost Device

Back on the PC one tap of the pencil edit button will let you name a device anything you’d like, and the bulls-eye looking icon is GPS. This will track your device right down to the exact location, often being accurate within a matter of feet.

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Simply hitting the GPS locate button will track the lost or stolen device for you, and you’re all set. Google warns to never try and retrieve a lost device yourself, and to contact the police. Of course this is the smart move, and bringing an officer with you to try and retrieve a stolen smartphone would be a good move. We’ve heard of this plenty from iPhone users, and the same can be done with Android smartphones and tablets.

Above our screenshot shows accurate to 24 meters, as I’m in a gated community and Google Maps is never 100% accurate with my location. That being said, while traveling out and about Google’s Android Device Manager is usually accurate within a matter of feet on our devices.

So, if you’ve lost a smartphone just open the app you downloaded from above, or head to the Android Device Manager page and tap locate. That’s all that’s needed, and it’ll usually give you an exact spot to retrieve a device. You can also try making it ring if it’s simply lost, but be aware that it will ring at full volume non-stop for 5 minutes. Or until someone hits the power button.

Should You Use This?

Users that want added protection and comfort will be happy to know this is a free service that’s extremely easy to use, and there’s no reason not to at least sign in and get devices ready. In case of an incident or a stolen device, you’ll be glad you did.

Alternatively there are tons of apps on the Google Play Store that offer something similar, but Google’s Android Device Manager works well, is simple, and best of all it’s completely free. There isn’t much to it, so head to the Android Device Manager page today and try it yourself.

  

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