I wouldn’t say this is especially interesting considering it has been functional for a while, but Google today rolled out a very handy update to Android Device Manager on the back-end of their search engine that now allows you to locate your phone by just searching for it. You can locate the phone by just asking Google to find it and so long as it has a cellular signal with data, or within range of a free Wi-Fi network that it has joined, you can track it down anywhere in the world.
The Android Device Manager service works all the way back to devices running Gingerbread, so you should be able to take advantage of this if you have a semi-recent device. Head over to this link to sign into the service and activate it for your account. So long as you stay signed into your Google account on the browser, you can search for your phone.
This also works on a tablet using the browser and I’ve had it work using another phone, although its worth setting this up right away because if you use two-factor authentication on your account, you can’t locate your phone if you can’t get the verification SMS. I haven’t figured out if this location service also works for finding your tablet, because there’s a good chance that it isn’t within Wi-Fi range of any open networks that have free data.
Once you’re in, you should get a prompt to locate your phone. When you do, Google will communicate through your device’s active internet connection to locate it. If you don’t have location-based services toggled on, hitting that little location button for your first run on the top-right corner of this new window will turn it on for you.
When you’ve got a lock, Google Maps switches to show you the phone’s approximate location and gives you three options – ring the device for five minutes so you can find it, lock it remotely with your password so that no-one can get in, or remotely wipe it of any sensitive data that is on the device, in case there’s anything there you don’t want people to find.
If you ever do lose your phone and worry that someone will disable location-based tracking, you can lock it first and then locate its position. Handy, though I think some people will begin to question their privacy even more if your computer has access to this service and someone uses it to find you somewhere where you aren’t supposed to be… (hint hint, parents, wink wink).