Google unveils Android-equivalent of 'Find My iPhone'

Google’s Device Manager for Android helps users locate their phones.

By , Contributor

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    Android will now have a geolocating security service.
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There’s that one time you left your Android device in a restaurant, and then the other time when you left it in a fitting room. And occasionally, you might leave it on your kitchen counter, and panic all day at work wondering where it went.

Google has introduced a way to track down misplaced Android devices, which will help alleviate the stress of the cellphone hide-and-seek game.  

The Android Device Manager lets users ring their phone at maximum volume, even if the phone is on silent, and locate the phone on a real-time map. If there is no hope of retrieving the phone, users can even wipe their device clean of all information – the so-called "kill switch" – so that their data doesn’t fall into ill-intentioned hands.  

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While these new features will certainly help recover cellphone devices that are tucked into the folds of a sofa, the Device Manager also addresses a more serious problem plaguing smart phone users nationwide: the rise of cellphone theft.

The San Francisco and New York attorneys general both supported the creation of a Save our Smartphones initiative to combat rampant theft of these devices. In New York City, 20 percent of all robberies involved the theft of a smart phone – a 40 percent increase since 2011, according to a statement issued by the Save our Smartphone coalition. New York City even has a separate Apple task force that deals solely with the theft of iPhones and iPads.

In November 2012, the Federal Communications Commission partnered with four of the largest telecom companies in the United States – T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon – to develop a database of stolen cellphone devices. When a phone is reported stolen its International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number is logged and blocked, preventing the phone from being reconnected to one of these providers' networks, according to PC Mag.  

Earlier this summer, the Samsung Galaxy S4, which runs on the Android operating system, announced that the phone will now come with a security system from LoJack built right into the device’s firmware. LoJack is a digital security company that provides something like security insurance, promising to locate and track devices for $29.99 per year.

Apple has also announced the addition of a kill switch to the iOS 7 version of the Find My iPhone app, which like the device manager allows users to geolocate their phones. 

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