On Android, Google already offers a feature that can help users of the operating system find a lost or stolen smartphone. On “Find my device”, you have the possibility to ring your phone, to have its last known location, or to secure the data. But while this Google feature can help, it’s limited.
Indeed, the localization is only accessible when your smartphone is connected. Once disconnected, the device is no longer able to communicate its last geolocation. But the good news is that Google intends to improve this system. And it seems obvious that the firm will take inspiration from Apple’s “Locate” function.
An equivalent of Apple Locate on Android?
In an article published this week, our colleagues from Android Police relayed a Google page that teased the new anti-loss and anti-theft feature of Android. As the news site reminds us, we have known for a long time that Google is working on improving its system for locating lost smartphones. And today, it seems that the novelty is coming soon.
On its English-language technical support site, Google has modified the list of new features of the “Google system” update on Android (Google Systems Updates) for the month of December. And this new version of the list includes a mention of “Find my device”. “Find My Device now supports encrypted last known location reporting for Android devices, using a new privacy-centric framework”reads the Google page.
Unfortunately, Google does not provide further details. But for Android Police, and developer Mishaal Rahman (a source of leaks that is regularly relayed by tech media), it could be an equivalent of Apple’s “Locate” network on Android. As a reminder, in the Apple ecosystem, when a device is lost, it emits a Bluetooth signal. This signal can be received by other Apple devices and then relayed (along with the last known location) to the owner of the lost device.
This system is very effective, because even when an Apple device is not connected to the internet, its geolocation can be relayed (securely) by the devices of other customers of the Cupertino company. It is also this system that is used to geolocate AirTags, Apple’s object locator tags.
Awaiting official announcement
For the moment, we do not know when Google will formalize this novelty for Android or the devices that will be compatible. But in any case, since there are more Android devices in use (which can relay the location of a lost device) than iPhones, Google’s system could be more efficient than Apple’s.
Otherwise, it should be noted that the Google system update list includes other interesting new features. Among these is support for digital storage of IDs and permits on the Google Wallet app. But as we mentioned in a previous article, this is only possible in the USA, and only in certain states, but not in France.
“Beta feature allowing users in select US states to scan their ID card or driver’s license into Google Wallet for a convenient, private, and secure presentation”, reads the list of updates from Google. As a reminder, in the United States, Apple already offers an equivalent functionality on the iPhone Wallet.