Android Device Manager

Google makes remotely managing and wiping your device easy and effective

Back at the beginning of August Google unveiled a new service called "Android Device Manager" that let you locate and remotely wipe your phones and tablets, and now the service is getting a some much-needed refinement. Today Google updated ADM to include options to apply and change lock screen PINs and passwords, adding to the nuclear option of remote wiping the device completely.

Just as we covered when the service launched, enabling ADM is extremely easy. To get started, go to google.com/android/devicemanager on your computer and go through your list of devices that are connected to your Google account. Once there, you can send a notification to the device you want to enable remote password application and wiping on, and you'll be just a few steps away from a much more secure phone.

Android Device Manager

Simply tap on the notification you receive or manually go to the Google Settings app on your phone, tap on "Android Device Manager" and select the box for "Allow remote lock and factory reset." You'll be given a permission screen (shown above) that lets you know Android Device Manager will now be a "Device Administrator" on your phone — this gives you the proper permissions to be able to manage your device from afar, which is a good thing.

One you've checked the boxes, head back to the ADM web interface and refresh the page, where you'll now see two more options light up under the status of that device. Next to "Ring" you'll now have the new option to "Lock" as well as the old option of "Erase." Clicking on Lock will bring up a dialogue box that lets you enable a PIN or password on your phone, even if you have no security on the phone before that point.

Android Device Manager

Enter either a (preferably long) numerical PIN or a alphanumeric password — which would have the highest security — in the box, confirm it, and then click the "Lock" button. You'll notice within seconds that the screen on the selected phone will turn off, and turning it on will reveal either a PIN or password box for you to authenticate to unlock. The lock screen security will remain on your phone until you personally go into the phone's settings and turn off security (again confirming the PIN or password), rather than just the first time you unlock. 

If you have lost or suspect your phone was stolen, the quickest and best thing to do is immediately lock it with a strong password from the web interface. Once you've assessed the situation and have found that the phone has indeed been stolen, then you may want to consider a remote wipe. Remotely wiping the device happens just as quickly as the screen lock, and erases not only the phone but also any external SDcard storage it may have. Whenever a wipe occurs you will also receive an email notification indicating where and when the device was wiped.

In either case, the lock or wipe will occur almost instantly, and if the device is unreachable at the time of the request because it is powered off or without an internet connection the service will lock or wipe the moment it is reconnected. This is a fantastic service provided by Google that will hopefully encourage more people to be mindful of their phone security. Best of all it's painless to set up and easy to manage if the worst happens.

 

Reader comments

How to: Set up Android Device Manager to lock and wipe your phone

80 Comments

Looks like they really didn't have a front page story about this...guess I know something after all. I'm still waiting for any sign that you know anything. That probably won't come any time soon.

No you missed the other three about it the device manager apparently. Just the the trademark thing last night

Posted via your wifes, girlfriends phone

The trademark thing was clearly sarcasm, but it takes a level of intelligence to understand that and you've yet to demonstrate that.
And there were not three other front page stories about Android Device Manager updating to let you remotely lock your phone. I don't know if you're illiterate, can't count, or some sad, sad combination of them.

Yes, actually, this was a very useful article. Somehow I missed all of the reports of this new capability. What can I say, I am a gadget hound, but I don't spend my entire life keeping up.

This new capability is awesome. I had a third-party solution installed, but this is better. I also like the ability to send a command to the phone to ring at full volume for 5 minutes even when it is configured to vibrate. I cannot wait to lose my phone in my house again. :)

I'll be enabling ADM on my wife's G3 as soon as I get home.

In order for any kind of precise location, you'll need to have location services turned on. How else would it know where the phone was?

I should have been more specific. To lock/wipe it, do you as well? When this first released I couldn't get it to do anything.

|❌_❌|

Turning off location access on my phone still lets me remote lock and wipe it, at least in my case. I haven't seen anything that says its a requirement for lock/wipe, you just need an internet connection on the phone/tablet.

Hi, I did as the article said-granted the Android Device Manager permissions.
But, when I refreshed the webpage, the lock and erase options did not get enabled. Nor did it get enabled when I logged off and logged back in.
Has anyone come across this? What's the solution?

This is one area that android could improve on. Apples find my phone features are a little better, but in kit Kat maybe they will improve it?

Note 2 to Nexus 5. Too easy...

I never used Apple's find my phone, but Android Device Manager is less than two months old. If its not better than Apple's now, I have no doubt that it will be soon.

If you never used then how cares about you opinion anyway?

And of course it will be better cause Apple cannot innovate and it doomed, find my phone feature was invented by Google all other companies just copying from Google :)

If you're mocking him saying that apple copied Google with this then that's unfair, this was on old BlackBerry devices first and possibly other devices that I don't know about. It's basically something that all phones need but there were apps in the play store so Google decided not to make one until they got a way to integrate it with android itself in services rather than a separate app

Posted via Android central app on my LG Google Nexus 4

I tried the wipe function about a week ago on a phone I'm going to deactivate. It didn't work.
I've since manually done a factory reset and loaned it to a friend. When he's done using it as he prepares to move from an iPhone to Android, I'll try the remote wipe again.

Posted via Android Central App

Thank you Andrew, it's as if Google forgets they are an advertising company. They don't advertise any of there stuff too well, in my opinion .

Posted via Android Central App

hey does this mean anyone with access to your computer with you logged in to google on Chrome can lock and wipe your phone??? i can see the pranks now

If you're really that concerned about someone doing that you can deactivate the service from your phone as long as you're not already locked out.

That's why there is the "sign out"button. If you stay signed in on a random computer, you deserve to be pranked lol!

Note 2 to Nexus 5. Too easy...

I log out every single time. Either that or I lock my laptop. And I don't let my browser save my password. It's s good habit to attain.

Note 2 to Nexus 5. Too easy...

Actually, lots of people do. Especially as computing has moved towards laptops away from desktops. Everyone closes the lids on their laptops when not in use. Require password when waking from sleep = great security practice.

Anyone that wants to mess with you and has physical access to your computer can do far worse than wipe your phone remotely.

Put a password login on your computer and log out when you're not using it. Problem(s) solved.

It locks my Ultra even when its connected to a trusted device. That's nice to know that if someone mugs me and takes my phone and my keys I can still lock my phone.

What if you have your sim card locked, and your phone is off; how will it receive the wipe command when your phone is powered on?

Posted via Android Central App

As we state in the article, the command sits and waits until it is connected to the internet again if the phone is off/disconnected when you send the request to lock/wipe.

If it never comes back online, it won't be wiped. You obviously can't do much to control the phone without an internet connection.

I love this feature. I asked about wiping in the forum Saturday, and learned more about the device manager. I wish there was a way to delete my old phone info without resetting it, though. I still use it at home on WiFi.

Posted via HTC One Android Central App

What about those of us who are rooted and have a custom recovery? Is the device manager still able to remotely wipe the phone? It's about time Google has come up with a method for the everyday android user to take control of their lost/stolen phone.

Posted via Android Central App

It should be able to erase your phone just fine even if you have a custom recovery, but I wouldn't count on that as your security choice. Nothing is for certain as soon as you tinker. 

Also note that as soon as you've unlocked your bootloader and put a custom recovery on, if an enterprising theif has hold of your phone they can simply plug it into a computer and take everything off of it without booting into the OS to get the command to wipe from ADM... Just a thought.

The issue is when someone know my email and password
He can lack/swipe my mobile from any PC !!!!!!!

Google should do tow verify step with our home telephone by voice calls .

Posted via Nexus 4 !!

If someone knows your email and password, they could already effectively lock you out of google services by changing the password... you also have bigger issues because they now have access to pretty much everything.

Pro tip: Don't let anyone else have your email and password.

I use app lock to LOCK the google services app in case my phone is stolen or lost....the ability to turn OFF this feature is locked

i like this but i will also keep Lookout for the spyware scans and the feature where it will snap/send me a picture of someone who tries to unlock my phone 3X and fails.

Well at least Google adds security and core functionality without the demand of an OS update the carriers and OEM's block from us.

Anyone Try Wiping on a custom ROM? Curious as to how that works.

Edit: NOT curious enough to try it.

Whenever I try and set this up I get the message "Google Apps device policy is only available for Google apps business and education customers. Please log in with your Google Apps account to access this page". Google does host my email and everything, using Google Apps, but I can't find a switch for this in Google Apps! Anyone seen this before?

Posted via Android Central App

Great idea, tried it with both my phone (SGS3) and tablet (rooted Touchpad). Slightly scary that it can locate it straight away.

I do think that maybe you need to have an additional/alternative password to access the Device manager, or at least have to re-enter your normal google password. Having all this power under a single gmail ID is a single point of failure - someone gets hold of this password then you are in trouble!

One article I read today was all about this being a great prank to play if you can jump on a mates pc!

This solution is still useless if you lose your phone, unfortunately. If I lose my phone and some average person that knows a few things about androids finds it, he could do a hard factory reset and that would wipe off my phone's identidty from the face of the Earth..

Until there's a solution to this all of this is just crap... well.. I guess it's usefull to make your phone ring if its on silent.. but that's it!!

Well said. All these solutions are eye wash. Let's take a live example. My phone is locked and I loose it and say I had my data enabled. Anyone who flicks the phone first removes the battery. Then he learns how to hard reset a phone and erases everything. And starts using the phone happily. And our stupid police guys doesn't bother all these as they get some commission from these thieves. What is the point of having this android device manager when it is useless??????

That's why iPhone wins. It has Activation Lock. It requires your Apple ID to restore (even entering the DFU mode) the phone. Sure that Google will create something that requires your Google account to wipe the device. Ahahaha. Well done, Apple! :)

Could you explain the steps for this?
The lock screen security will remain on your phone until you personally go into the phone's settings and turn off security (again confirming the PIN or password), rather than just the first time you unlock.

I did a test with my phone....now I'm having issues trying to get the lock screen off......

I like this feature to track my kids. I have their e-mail and password set up on my computer so I can find out where they are when I need to know and to also find their phones when they lose them. The only thing so far that I don't like is you can't delete old phones.

I agree with you there. I'm looking at a list of phones and tablets I have either returned or sold over the past year and got myself confused until I saw the dates they were activated. It would be nice to be able to delete phones/tablets you no longer have. Otherwise, I thnk this is a great idea, no matter where it came from.

My Nexus 5 shows up registered in Android Device Manager, it shows that it was last used today, but its location is unavailable and it doesn't ring when I test it. What should I do?

There is a flaw in this service.
The Device manager can be turned off in the phone so the locking and wiping and location does not work any more.

So anyone who stole your phone can just disable the device manager in settings.
Except when you already have a lock on your phone obviously. But then the lock feature wouldn't be needed anyway.

I have recently lost my nexus 4. The phone was screen locked. It is coming as switched off and andriod device manager is giving "location unavailable" . I dont remember whether i have activated remote lock through device manger. But now through website in link https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager I have locked the device.

I have also tried remotely installing the Trustgo and Sophos and Lookout & Cerberus applications remotely but I suppose they would work only if the thief puts the device on.

What should I do to detect the device.

hi! I've just lost my s4 mobile earlier and I've just learned about this feature. (hopefully it's not yet late)

anyways, my s4 has been rooted, gps is not on and mobile data is on but not enough prepaid credits to visit other sites as it is limited only for free fb usage as what our service provider does to its patrons.

upon using the android device manager, location is unavailable, last use is a week ago (feb 7) and the only options in the web device manager are "ring" and "setup lock and erase"

i've clicked "setup lock and erase" and it sent notif as per pop-up window (i did it twice by the way)

1.) will the lock and erase do its function rightaway once the robber turns it on either mobile data, which is what i've said, only good for free fb usage due to lack of prepaid credits, or wifi?

2.) will i still need to do something like i need to wait and click something here on my desktop browser to make it really work?

thanks! =/

My phone was stolen a few hours ago, and I'm on the android device manager page, when i click on the option to setup lock and erase( it is combined now, not two separate options like this video), it asks if it can send the notification when i click send, it says notification sent but it doesn't give me any more option. I don't think the device was erased, i'm thinking it could be because maybe something was turned off on my phone that wouldn't allow that to happen, but if so, why was it able to locate it. PLEASEEEE HELP!

I just got an Android tablet. Went to the Google Android device manger to see what is was, and maybe set it up. On the page, there is a map, and just the device name and 2 buttons. "Ring", and "Enable Lock and Erase". Thinking I was just enabling the Lock and erase function, I pushed that button. MY tablet is at home, turned off, not connected to wifi, but is there any chance when I turn it on, it will now erase it? I do have location enabled on it, but is doesn't have GPS. Can I turn it on without wifi active, go into settings, and turn off the lock and erase? I don't want to erase my new tablet...and there are no instructions about this, no warning on the button, nothing...