Inspired by Apple's “Find My” network, which allows users to track lost or stolen Apple devices even when they are out of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth range and powered off, Google has been working on a similar “Find My Device” network since 2021. The December 2022 Play system update release notes suggest the imminent launch of this long-awaited network, designed to track lost or stolen Android devices without an internet connection.
Google is in the process of refining its “Find My Device” service, a feature that has been assisting Android users in locating their lost devices for years. The revamped system, known as the “Find My Device network,” aims to enhance the device-tracking capabilities, even when the device is powered off.
How Google´s Find My Device Network Will Work
Devices, even when switched off, can still function to a certain extent. The updated system will allow a device to emit an encrypted Bluetooth signal, which can be detected by other Android devices in the vicinity. This will help in determining the approximate location of the lost or stolen device. This entire process operates discreetly in the background, provided both the lost device and the detecting device are part of the “Find My Device network.”
Setup Insights from Mishaal Rahman
Mishaal Rahman, an Android expert, has shared insights into the potential setup process for the network on Twitter. According to Rahman, users will receive a notification prompting them to join the “Find My Device network”. An introductory screen will then provide an overview of how the network operates, emphasizing its vast reach of “over a billion Android devices.” The system will primarily focus on “high-traffic areas,” meaning the location data sent by a device will be utilized only if other devices in the network detect the same lost item. All location data will be encrypted using the device's lock screen, ensuring privacy and security for the user.
Here's a first look at the setup process for Android's Find My Device network!
1) You'll get a notification asking you to “add this device to the Find My Device network”
2) You'll see an intro screen explaining how Find My Device can use the network “of over a billion Android… pic.twitter.com/3k3uDKh7ak
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) August 18, 2023
User Participation and Future Prospects
By default, the feature will be opt-in, meaning users will have to actively choose to be a part of the network. This has raised concerns, as many might overlook or ignore the opt-in notification, potentially limiting the network's effectiveness. Rahman expressed curiosity about whether the feature will remain opt-in upon its official release or if Google might adopt an opt-out approach. He suggested that if Google incorporates a toggle during the Android device setup process, similar to Apple's method, the feature might see more widespread adoption.