Google plans Android version of Apple's Find My network

in iOS
Google may be working on its own version of Apple's Find My network, with a beta release of Google Play Services for Android suggesting the smartphones could be used to track other devices in a similar way to Apple's major feature.

The Find My network first appeared on iOS, but Google is seemingly making its own version.
The Find My network first appeared on iOS, but Google is seemingly making its own version.

The Find My network is designed to make it possible for lost items to be found, by leveraging the high number of iPhones being used. It seems that Google may be coming up with its own alternative to the same system.

An APK teardown of the beta release for Google Play Services 21.24.13 on Thursday reveals text strings mentioning the "Find My Device Network." As discovered by XDA-Developers, a second string says a feature "Allows your phone to help locate your and other people's devices."

Currently, Google offers Android users relocation services using the Find My Device app, but it is a little limited compared to Apple's version. The Android app is only usable to access devices signed into the user's Google account, and doesn't use passing-by devices to locate them.

It seems the "Find My Device Network" feature could work in the same way as Apple's service, in that passing-by devices could report back pings from the lost hardware to the owner. However, while Apple can leverage Ultra Wideband for its Find My Network, Google's version may have to rely on Bluetooth instead, which may hit the accuracy of the service.

The inclusion in a Google Play Services update could enable it on a high number of devices at the same time. As there are over 3 billion Android devices globally, a large proportion will have Google Mobile Services installed, it's plausible that the network could quickly grow to exceed a billion devices in a short timeframe.

The Find My network may be the latest feature that Google copies from Apple to use in Android. In May, Google said it planned to introduce privacy nutrition labels to apps in the Play Store in 2022, echoing Apple's own version.

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  • Reply 1 of 5
    XedXed Posts: 2,216member
    A user-facing version of what Google already knows. That's nice for their users. I mean product.
  • Reply 2 of 5
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    I called 3rd party Find My Network a “game changer”. Some a**hole on here said Apple was just following.

    Funny huh?
  • Reply 3 of 5
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,845member
    This could add some new, extra layers of abusive monetization of user tracking. Seems on the surface, as mentioned above, like it's just a user-facing adaptation of the data google already has, but I think it's going to add a new layer of triangulation. Google probably isn't currently using Android devices to track each other, but they will, now, and unlike Apple, they will not offer the unequivocal assurances that they are encrypting the identifiers and can't intercept the info for themselves. Now google will not only know where you've been, but who you've been with, and for how long and in what proximity. In a year or so, people will have ads mysteriously pop up at just the right time to get flowers for their mistress and expensive gifts for their spouse. Meanwhile, their spouse will have well-timed ads popping up for local divorce lawyers with tag lines like, "Received any unexpected, oddly extravagant gifts lately? We can help you get more, much, much more..."
    edited June 2021 williamlondonrotateleftbytewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 5
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,834member
    “Hey google - where’s my phone?”
    ”well, you were at the mall this afternoon texting your mother, and then you went to the bar where you placed an online bet on the Mets game which you lost and proceeded to drink 3 more beers while complaining to the bartender about your girlfriend. You stopped and picked up your dry cleaning on the way home and overcharged your Visa card, but you used the card instead of Android pay like you usually do, so you probably left your phone at the bar.”
  • Reply 5 of 5
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,927member
    Aren’t Android users still telling their ‘friends’ to turn Bluetooth off?
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