What is the Find My Device network?

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It’s always an extremely scary moment when you can’t find your phone or other device. You never know if it’s simply lost or if it’s been stolen. Well, if you’re an Android User, you can rest assured. Google unveiled its Find My Device network, and this is a useful tool to help you locate your device should you lose it. But, what is the Find My Device network?

That’s what this piece is going to explain. We’re going to go over what this network is, how to use it, and other things you should know about it. Also, the Android Find My Device network is something that will be updated and improved over time. As such, this article will be updated accordingly. So, if you have any new questions about new features coming to this network, feel free to check back and see what new information has been added.

What is the Find My Device network?

The Find My Device network is a fully integrated web comprising millions of Bluetooth-enabled Android devices all communicating with one another seamlessly. Supportive devices will communicate with other devices nearby via Bluetooth. This is the premise that will power the entire network. So, using this network, you’ll be able to pinpoint your device’s location should you need to know where it is.

How does it work?

The Find My Device network works by using the devices around your device to pinpoint its location. Say, for example, you leave your phone on the table at a coffee shop. Well, unbeknownst to you and other people, your phone is actually communicating with surrounding Android devices via Bluetooth. So, if the other people sitting at the table have Android devices, your phone is basically talking back and forth with those devices.

Since these devices are communicating with your phone, they have an idea of your phone’s location. Now, if you open the Find My Device app, and try to locate your phone, Google will use the location data provided by the surrounding devices in order to pinpoint your device’s exact location.

Doesn’t Find My Device network already exist?

Well, yes and no. Yes, the platform existed before. This is a platform that you can use to pinpoint the location of your Android devices. You’ve been able to use the Android app or the website to locate your device.

However, this wasn’t truly a network. Google could only get the location of your device if it was connected to the internet. If your device wasn’t connected to the internet, then Google would have to use the last location recorded before it went offline.

The Find My Device network is different in that you will still be able to locate your device even if it’s not connected to the internet. If your phone is not connected to the internet, it will still be able to communicate with surrounding devices using Bluetooth. So, this is great news for people whose phones were not connected to the internet when they were lost. This eliminates the guessing game.

Also, since this uses Bluetooth technology, you will also be able to find the location of different types of devices. This includes smartwatches and headphones. At the time of writing this article, several companies are working on bringing their own tracker tags as well. These are AirTag-like devices that will also show up on the Find My Device network. You’ll be able to put these tags inside purses or items that you want to be able to keep track of.

So, the Find My Device network is an all-encompassing web of interconnected devices.

What devices are not included in the network?

At the time of writing this article, the Find My Device network is available in a limited number of markets. It’s currently available in the US and Canadian markets. Obviously, the company is going to spread this to more regions as time goes on. However, if you are not within the aforementioned regions, then you are playing the waiting game.

Also, we’re certain that Google is going to involve a wide range of Android devices. However, if you’re rocking a very old smartphone, then you shouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t work for you. So, if you’re using a device that is currently unsupported, then you may have to upgrade to a newer device if you want to be able to use the network.

Another thing to take into account is wearable devices. As stated before, it is possible to use headphones and smartwatches with the Find My Device network. However, your results may vary. It’s up to the manufacturer of the device to make it compatible with the Find My Device network. So, there’s no guarantee that the model you own will be compatible.

How do I know if I’m in the network?

Being on the Find My Device network doesn’t involve a huge software update or anything like that. In order to use this, you’ll have to be on the latest version of the Find My Device app. Since this is still rolling out, there’s a chance that you will not be in the network just yet. If you have the app, make sure you update it.

To update the app, you can go to the Play Store and find the Find My Device app. Also, you can hold your finger down on the app icon and tap on the app info button that appears in the resulting menu. From that point, scroll down to the bottom and tap on the app details button. This process May differ depending on the Android skin you’re using.

While you’re on the Play Store page, look for the Update button at the top of the screen. If you don’t see it, then you’ll have to wait for the update to reach your phone. For reference, we have yet to receive the update for the app, and we are on version 3.1.000-4. This version came out on March 31st, 2024. So, if you’re running that version or older, you will not be part of the network.

Does it cost money?

No. Being on the network is completely free, and Google has not indicated that it will charge for the service going forward.

Can I use the network when my phone is turned off?

At this point in time, that is a complicated question. Currently, there are only two devices that can be located on the network while powered off. These two devices are the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. This is because of the special hardware that Google put inside of these phones.

From the looks of it, it appears that these devices are using a very low-energy solution to send Bluetooth signals when the phone is not powered on. So, this functionality is limited to these two handsets.

However, Google is planning on working with other manufacturers and chipmakers to bring this sort of technology to more devices. At the time of writing this article, we don’t know if there are any devices currently planned to get this capability. However, this article will be updated with new information when that happens.

Does this pose a security risk?

At the time of writing this article, there doesn’t seem to be any blatant security risk using the Find My Device network. Nothing has come to the surface that people should be worried about. However, that’s not to say that there won’t be any bad actors who will use this as an exploit.

Will this use more battery power?

Ostensibly, this should use more battery power than before. However, we are certain that the battery drain is negligible, and you should not see a difference in your day-to-day life.

Is there a limit to the number of devices I can use on the Find My Device network?

As far as we know, there is no limit to how many devices you can use. All of your supported devices will appear on the list. So, you won’t have to worry about Google kicking your devices out of the network.

How do I remove devices from the network?

At this time, removing devices from the network will involve you removing your Google account from set devices. So, if you want to remove your device from the network while maintaining your Google account, you will not be able to.

How can I protect my data from potential thieves?

If you found out that you left your phone at the coffee shop, but didn’t find out until you’ve already gotten home, then the best option will be to secure your device. Securing your device will lock the device using the device’s PIN, pattern, or password. So, this will make sure that no strangers will be able to pick up your device and log into it. If your phone does not have a PIN, you will be able to set one using the app.

Also, securing your device will sign you out of your Google account. This means that, if a potential Thief is able to get past the PIN, they will not be able to access any information on your Google account. This means that they will not be able to log into any of your services using your Google account or have access to your passwords or other information. Once you get your phone back, you will simply be able to log back in and pick up where you left off.

What happens if my device gets stolen?

If your device is stolen, and there’s no chance of getting it back, then you’ll have to make the hard decision to factory reset it. Factory resetting your device normally requires you to physically have it in your hand. However, there is an option in the Find My Device network app that will allow you to factory reset it remotely.

In the app, look for the device that has been stolen and tap on it. You will see the map screen appear with the bottom panel under it. At the right corner of the bottom panel, you will see a little gear icon. This will take you to a new page. At the very bottom, you’ll see a button with red text that will give you the option to factory reset the device.

Once you factory reset your device, all of the data will be permanently erased. This includes your app data, call logs, text messages, apps, Etc. Once you do that, you will no longer be able to locate that device using the Find My Device network.

If your device is currently offline when you are trying to reset it, the reset will begin the moment it reconnects to the internet.