Google finally launches its Find My Device network

Google has officially launched its much-anticipated Find My Device network, a technology first teased at last year’s I/O event. Utilizing a crowdsourced network of over a billion Android devices, the system aids users in locating misplaced gadgets, aligning with similar offerings from Apple and Tile. Today, it begins rolling out to Android users in the US and Canada, with a global release on the horizon.

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Once installed, the app allows users to track compatible Android phones and tablets. Users can prompt their devices to ring and view their location on a map, even if they are offline. Notably, Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro smartphones remain traceable even when powered off or with a completely dead battery, adding convenience.

While the technology is currently limited to phones and tablets, support for everyday items is forthcoming. In May, Bluetooth tracker tags from Chipolo and Pebblebee will integrate into the Find My Device app. This expansion will enable users to locate various items such as keys, wallets, and pets, with tags specifically designed for the network.

Pebblebee’s offerings include tags, clips, and slim cards, set to hit shelves in late May or early June. Chipolo is preparing versions of its One Point and Card Point trackers for Android devices, slated for May release. Google promises additional trackers later this year, including products from Motorola and eufy.

Moreover, Google’s Find My Device service integrates with Nest smart home gadgets, providing the location of lost items within the home environment. This integration offers users a convenient reference point for retrieval.

Additionally, a feature allows users to share an item’s location with others, facilitating collaborative efforts in locating misplaced belongings. The tracking technology is compatible with devices running Android 9 and above, ensuring widespread accessibility.

Despite the convenience, privacy concerns persist. Google assures users that they can opt out of the service via a web portal. Reports suggest that the technology was held back until Apple implemented tracking protections in iOS to address stalking concerns, leading to a partnership between the two tech giants to develop industry standards against misuse of tracking devices. Apple’s updated protections in iOS 17.5, still in beta, aim to combat stalking issues.