Google’s Find My Device for Android could soon match Apple’s Find My app

In June 2021, a report said that Google was looking to increase the capabilities of its Find My Device feature bringing it to the same level as Apple’s Find My network. The latter can track lost or stolen iPhone units, iPad tablets, Macs, and AirTag trackers even if they are out of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth range. Heck, Find My Network will find these devices even if they are turned off!

Soon, Android devices around the world could form a network to help find lost or stolen Android or Wear OS devices.

Find My Device by Google only tracks phones that are signed in to your Google account. The platform is also unable to help others find their lost or stolen devices. However, Google’s work to expand the capabilities of its Find My Device feature continues. Google Release Notes for the Play Store December 2022 update (via Android Police) include the following mention: “Find My Device now supports encrypted last known location reporting for Android devices, using a new privacy-focused framework.”

This could indicate that Google is working to enable Find My Device to track lost or stolen Android devices, even without an internet connection. With an updated Find My Device network, the location services of other Android devices could help to find the lost phones of other Android users. Since the information would be encrypted, only the owner of the “discovered” device would know where it is. This network could also be used to help find lost or stolen Wear OS devices.
With over 3 billion Android devices floating around the world, a Find My Device network could cover a lot of ground. If this sounds familiar, this is how Apple’s Find My network works, Apple itself says: “The Find My network is an encrypted anonymous network of hundreds of millions of Apple devices that can help you locate your device or item.” It’s the sheer number of active Apple devices and encryption that makes Find My Network work.
There has been no official announcement regarding the Find My Device update and we have no idea when the feature will be released. This would be a huge problem for Android users and should be worth some sort of announcement from the company.

App archiving will now automatically archive certain apps when an Android phone’s storage is low

The December Play Store update also adds support that allows Android users in some states to place a digital copy of their driver’s licenses in their Google Wallets. Also, at the end of November, Google started rolling out the app archive for Android phones. This feature allows users to uninstall an app to free up space on their phones, but still allows app data to be stored on these devices. As a result, when the app is reinstalled, users will have exactly the same experience as they had before uninstalling it.

And this month’s update takes that feature and runs with it. Now, if a phone is low on storage space, it will automatically archive certain apps. This is good news for those with budget Android phones that have a limited amount of native storage. This feature appears in version 33.5 of the Google Play Store, which was removed last Monday.

To see what version of Google’s Android app store your phone is running, open the Play Store app and tap your profile picture on the right side of the search bar at the top of the screen. From the menu you are taken to, press Settings > On and you’ll see the Play Store version near the bottom of the screen. You will also see a green link that says “Update Play Store”. Tap on it and the Play Store will update, or you’ll see a message saying your phone already has the latest software.

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