Earlier this year, Apple unveiled the AirTag tracker. The device helps users find missing objects, including an iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, or a pair of AirPods. AirTags leverage Apple’s massive Find My ecosystem, relying on anonymous, crowdsourced location data to track objects. A ping to a nearby iPhone could let an AirTag on a stolen scooter send the owner its last known location. In fact, that actually happened, helping someone retrieve their stolen belongings. Apple has more than a billion devices that can help users find lost devices, which is why AirTags are so useful. But Google has far more Android devices in use than Apple does iPhones. It’s a wonder Google hasn’t already copied Apple’s Find My tracking technology, but that’s exactly what the company is now doing.
Google might not launch an AirTag tracker of its own any time soon, but reports said a few months ago that Google might copy Apple’s Find My technology. Google was supposedly developing a Find My Device app, similar to Apple’s Find My app that can locate people and devices. Code in Google Play Services indicated at the time that Find My Device would let phones help to find missing gadgets.
How Google Find My Device works
In August, 9to5Google found more evidence suggesting Google would soon unveil the Find My Device app. Google is already testing the app internally before making it available to the general public. It’s a process called “dogfooding” that allows Googlers to test unreleased apps.
The website found Google’s Find My Device app version 2.4.043_df in the wild. Text from the app shows that users can mark a device as lost, like a phone or tablet. Any other Android device that comes in contact with the missing gadget will receive pings from it via Bluetooth. Once that happens, the passing Android device will report the “sighting” to the network. Users will also be able to make their devices ring, which can be helpful if you’re within range of the lost item.
The Find My Device app will also allow users to keep track of shared devices. Whether they’re gadgets you use at home or business devices, the app will let users share ownership. In such a case, all the parties with access to a device location will be able to find it once it’s lost.
Protecting vehicle data
Google’s Find My Device app will also help users secure their data on lost or stolen devices, such as a car that’s running Android Auto. Users will be able to create profiles for their cars and lock their information down if someone steals their car. That way, thieves won’t have access to any personal information they might otherwise snatch from the Android Auto UI.
Find My Device will also allow users to delete their profile remotely from the stolen vehicle. There’s no guarantee, however, that all of these features will be available in the Find My Device app at launch. What is clear is that there’s no Google tracker in the works quite yet.