Google’s Android Find My Device Now Tracks Phones When Off

Google's Android
Google rolls out the Android Find My Device network, allowing users to track their phones, smartwatches, and other items even when they are offline, marking a significant update to Android's device tracking capabilities​

In a significant update to its device-tracking capabilities, Google has finally started rolling out the Find My Device network for Android users. This network, which had been in anticipation for nearly a year since its announcement at Google I/O in May 2023, enables users to locate their devices—including phones, smartwatches, and even items like headphones and trackers—even when they are offline.

The launch of this network marks a pivotal development, allowing Android devices to leverage a low-power Bluetooth signal for locating lost items, a feature somewhat akin to Apple’s Find My network. The introduction of “Find your offline devices” settings in the latest beta version of Google Play Services underscores Google’s commitment to enhancing device security and user convenience.

The network operates by utilizing all Android phones with Google Play Services as nodes to assist in finding lost items. Users have the flexibility to adjust their participation in the network with settings that include options for locating devices without the network, with the network in high-traffic areas, or with the network in all areas. The settings also provide an option to turn off the feature entirely, with the default setting being on for all areas.

This rollout is not a wide, formal launch but represents the first steps towards a full launch. Google plans to fully activate the network following the release of iOS 17.5, which introduces necessary protections against unwanted tracking—a collaboration between Google and Apple aimed at setting an industry standard for tracking technologies.

Google’s delay in launching the Find My Device network was strategic, allowing Apple to implement these protections in iOS, thus ensuring a safer ecosystem for tracking technologies across both platforms. The full launch of the network is expected to revolutionize how Android users find their offline devices, providing a much-needed counterpart to Apple’s established Find My network.

This update is a testament to Google’s commitment to enhancing device security and user experience, bridging a significant gap in the Android ecosystem’s ability to locate lost or stolen devices effectively, even when they are powered off.

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