Find your lost device with Android Device Manager
Google announced last week that it would release a new locator feature for Android devices called Android Device Manager, which helps owners find their lost or stolen phones and tablets. It was supposed to roll out later this month, but in a Google+ posting Wednesday, Google announced its immediate availability.
The feature works similarly to other locator services, like Lookout and Samsung's Find My Mobile, but now you get the feature natively on your Android device. Here's how to get started with Android Device Manager:
Enable Android Device Manager
On your Android device, go to the Google Settings app, then tap on Android Device Manager. The locator feature is enabled by default, but to enable remote data wipe, tap on the box next to "Allow remote factory reset," then tap "Activate."
Use Android Device Manager
To use Android Device Manager, go to https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager and log in with your Google account. You may get a prompt asking you for permission to allow Android Device Manager to use location data. Click on the "Accept" button to continue.
- Location: The location of your Android device will appear automatically on the map, along with the name of the place, when it was last used, and when it was last located. You can zoom in and out of the map to check out the location.
- Ring: The location data is an approximation and may not help you figure out if it's hiding somewhere in your home. Instead of having someone call your phone to help you find it, you can choose to ring your device from Android Device Manager. This will cause your device to ring for 5 minutes at the highest volume, even if it's set on silent or vibrate.
- Lock: Locking your device remotely can be useful if you want to lock your Android device so no one can access your data while you're trying to recover your lost device. To lock your device, click on the "Lock" option. Enter your new password twice, then click the Lock button. Once the command is sent to your device, it will lock it immediately, even if it's being used.
- Erase Device: If you think you've lost your device for good and would like to force a factory reset to protect your personal data, choose "Erase Device." This will erase all your apps, photos, music, and settings from your device. If your device is offline when you send the "Erase Device" command, it will perform the reset the next time it comes online. Once your device has been wiped, you will no longer be able to access it from Android Device Manager. Also keep in mind that a remote factory reset may not wipe external SD memory cards.
Remember, if your device has been stolen, contact the police and let them do their jobs. With Android Device Manager, your data is safe, so make sure you stay safe as well by not attempting to retrieve the device on your own.
Editors' note: This post was updated on September 24 to add details about the new option to remotely lock a device.