Android users might have a similar tracking system to Apple’s “Find My” soon.
If you’ve ever lost your Android phone you’ve probably turned to Google’s Find My Device service, and this can be a slick way to locate your handset — as long as it’s signed into your Google account and has an internet connection. But soon, you might be able to use a crowdsourced network of Android devices to locate your missing gadgets without that.
The latest beta version of Google Play Services, version 21.24.13, includes code that suggests Google is working on a rival to Apple’s Find My network. As first spotted by XDA Developers, lines of code in the beta app reference a “Find Device network.” There is also a line that reads “Allows your phone to help locate your and other people’s devices.”
From the wording it sounds like you’d need to opt in, but that it would be an all or nothing situation in that you wouldn’t be able to leverage this device network to track your device if you didn’t also agree to allowing your phone to help locate other lost devices, and vice versa.
In any case, this crowdsourced network sounds a lot like what Apple is doing with its Find My iPhone service, and with AirTags, which rely almost entirely on being nearby to an Apple device. It would also allow Google to launch a rival device to the AirTag if it chose to, so you’d be able to locate anything the tracker was attached to.
With Google’s Find My Device network, the company could bank on the large presence of its mobile operating system. This means that any Android smartphone sold outside of China with the Play Services app preloaded will presumably be eligible to join the Find My Device network.