Google launches Android Find My Device network

Google Apply today Find My Device network for Android-based products, mirroring the functionality of Apple's ‌Find My‌ network designed to locate Apple devices.

Like Apple ‌Find My‌, the Android ‌Find My‌ Device network is able to use millions of Android devices (running Android 9 or later) in the wild to track down lost, stolen, and lost Android products. A lost Android smartphone can ping nearby Android devices using Bluetooth, relaying location information back to the owner.

Since the network uses Bluetooth technology, it works even when Android devices are offline and do not have a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. Some devices, like the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, will be able to be located even when they are turned off or when the battery is dead. ‌Find My‌ offers the same specific features for iPhones.

Starting in May, the ‌Find My Device network for Android smartphones will also work with Bluetooth trackers from companies like Chipolo and Pebblebee, allowing Android users to attach trackers to items to determine their location on the Android network. Although Google doesn't design its own trackers, third-party trackers will work in the same way as AirTags.

To prevent iPhone users from being tracked without their knowledge using this new network, Google worked with Apple to create an industry specification that allows ‌iPhone‌ and Android users to get alerts about trackers of nearby unknown items regardless of the brand of the tracking device. Google waited until Apple implemented support for third-party tracking alerts to launch its network, based on code in iOS 17.5.

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iOS 17.5 appears to extend AirTag “Mobile Found” alerts to third-party item trackers, allowing the ‌iPhone‌ to recognize Android-based item trackers and those from other companies. “You can disable this item and prevent it from sharing its location with the owner. To do this, follow the instructions provided on the website by the manufacturer of this item,” reads some iOS 17.5 code.

Google was able to learn from the criticism that Apple faced after launching AirTags. There have been numerous news stories and reports of criminals using AirTags for stalking, carjacking, and more, prompting Apple to make multiple changes to unwanted tracking alerts. Apple has increased the frequency of notifications and also designed a Tracker Detect app for Android devices, but Apple's work with Google ensures a more permanent solution that keeps Android and iPhone users safe as it launches another major tracking network.

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