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. However, this weekend they rolled out a brand new option that makes finding or locating a lost Android smartphone easier than ever.
Last year we wrote up an easy tutorial to help owners find a lost or stolen device, but with the new method released this week by Google, a follow-up was needed. Google’s pretty smart these days, especially with Google Search, and their latest creation makes finding your phone, and making it ring to locate it so easy than anyone can do it.
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. Also, April is the highest month for mobile theft, so you’ll want to have the Android Device Manager installed, even though Google’s new method doesn’t need it to be installed prior to the device trying to be found.
The month of April is the highest when it comes to theft, as people are out and about, enjoying the good weather, and an array of other things. This is probably why Google chose now to rollout this new feature, and it’s so great everyone needs to know about it.
Simply type “Find my phone” into the Google Search bar on your computer, laptop, or tablet, and as long as you’re signed into your Gmail account on that device it will find your phone. Just like that. It’s magic, and works extremely quick. You may be asked a second time to sign into your Google account for security reasons, but once done, you’re all set and Google finds your phone in seconds.
Google’s likely using location data and your WiFi connection, and it’s usually accurate right down to a few feet, or a couple of meters. I have location data disabled on my phone, but it still found it with directions to my driveway. As you can see above it took less than one second. Pretty neat right? Your phone will have a notification on it that Google used some services to find it, which you can open, or just dismiss as you now have your phone safely in your possession.
This doesn’t have the same full features as the Android Device Manager, like being able to erase user data by wiping the phone, locking the screen with a password (so a thief can’t look through it or erase your device) or even let it ring on full volume to find it if it’s just lost in your home.
As you can see above though, the new “Find my phone” Google Search method has one “Ring” option on the bottom left. This will make your phone ring at full volume for five minutes, or until you find it and hit the power button. This is extremely helpful if you lose your phone inside, but can also track it down at a nearby store, bar, or anywhere else for that matter.
At the same time, Google lets you find more than one device if the situation applies to you. Below is a screenshot of Google finding multiple phones attached to my account, even if they haven’t been turned on in a while. It is finding the last known location, and again, it’s accurate right to my street and good enough for most. Hit the dropdown arrow on the top right, and select the device you wish to find.
Android users have been able to find their devices remotely for a while now, but this just makes everything extremely easy and much quicker. Every second counts sometimes, especially if it was stolen. If that’s the case, your best bet is logging into the Android Device Manager and adding a password or pin, or erasing the device. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Or just click the map which redirects you to the full Android Device Manager page with all the features we’re used to, so you can erase or lock it.
It’s worth noting that if you do this, there will be a notification on the device and a thief will be notified you’re trying to find the phone, if it’s in his/her possession. You can do the “find my phone” search at home, click the notification on device, and disable the notification in the future, which could help in finding a phone at a later date.
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 into the ADM and get devices ready. In case of an incident or a stolen device, you’ll be glad you did. That said, this new method doesn’t even require users setup the device manager, it does it in the background.
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. If you do have to find a lost phone, you may want to contact the authorities to go with you. Give this new feature a try today, and good luck finding a lost device.