Four weeks ago, I wrote a short guide on what to do when you lose your Android smartphone citing myself as an example. I mention the fact that you can use the Google Find My Device service to locate your missing device but I didn’t talk much about it.
Today I want to touch more on how to use the Google Find My Device system to easily locate your Android smartphone whether it’s lost or misplaced. Though the feature comes very handy, in situations whereby your smartphone got stolen, it might be hard to locate because of some barriers that limit the efficiency of the service.
The Google Find My Device makes use of your smartphone’s Location service or GPS built within the device and you also need to log in to your Google account. Except you’re using a Huawei or Samsung smartphone (which now have their own Find my device services too), the Google Mobile Service baked within every Android smartphone help integrate your Google Account within your smartphone when you log in. By default, the Find My Device feature is activated on all Android devices.
To be on the safe side, do the following:
- Go to your device Settings page and search for Find My Device
- If you find the option, click to see if it’s activated. Else, just switch the toggle to turn it on
Another option you have in case you have difficulties locating the Google Find My Device option from the settings option is probably because it’s been swapped by your OEM for their own service, you can just head to the Google Play Store to download the Find My Device app and use it instead.
When the download is complete, the next thing is to do the following:
- Turn on your device’s location via the toggle or just go to the settings page to find it and turn it on.
- If you’re security-conscious, then you can change the permission of applications that can access your Location via the Apps list within the settings page.
- In all seriousness, ensure Google Find My Device have access to your location.
FIND YOUR PHONE
Okay, now that you have that out of the way, the next thing is to head to your web browser, and depending on the web browser you use, just type the keyword Google Find My Device to any search engine (unless Google has been censored on the search engine) you should get something like the image below.
If you’re using the same Google account you used on your smartphone on the Google web, you should start seeing your device’s actual location directly from the search result via Google Maps. But to get more details and do more such as ringing the device, then click on the Find My Device website to learn more about your device’s activities and so forth.
Otherwise, click on the link and you’ll be taken to the Find My Device page, which will name your phone, the last time it was pinged (and the name of the Wi-Fi network it was using), and the current battery power. A Google map will show where your phone was last located.
Once you’ve located your device, there are three options that are listed on the left side of the screen. Which you choose depends on whether you feel the device is in a safe place or not. You can:
- Either play a sound on the device (like ringtone) for about five minutes in order to locate the device
- Lock the device and sign out of your Google account so that your data will be safe while you retrieve the device. This is a good option in case of theft or you forgot the device in a public place where an unknown person can have access to it.
- Erase the device completely. Do note that this should be your last consideration in case all efforts to retrieve the device is impossible (in case of theft). With this, you won’t be able to locate the device but all your data on it will get erased remotely when the device is connected to the internet.
While all these are great features that Google has employed to help keep your device secured from theft, there are still some shortcomings to how practical the feature can be. For example, the device needs to be connected to the internet in order to do most of the things you get on the screen such as ringing the device or wiping the device, or even locating it.