Android Device Manager coming this month; locate and protect your lost Android phone

There are plenty of tools and software packages (opens in new tab) out there that will monitor your Android phone and help locate it in the event that it's lost, but until now we've not heard of any official solution from Google themselves. That's about to change according to the official Android blog, as the Android Device Manager is set to launch later this month.

Built for devices running Android 2.2 or above (that'd be about all of them) Android Device Manager is said to have tools to help you locate a missing phone by sounding the ringer at max volume, tracking its location if it's out of earshot, and a quick and easy way to remotely wipe your personal data off the device if you're not able to recover it.

Many of us have been using some of the great third party tools for this for a while now, but we're still excited to see an official offering. We'll have a good look when it becomes official.

Source: Google

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • Of course when I lose my phone 2 years from now, Google will have canceled this project. :)
  • Yep... that's why I have LookOut Mobile AND one more free location app. Small file sizes so it is not a problem to have two apps.
  • MSSCA, I recently went to sprint for service and the tech guys that know there stuff (compared to phone support) hate that Sprint was pushing Lookout officially, saying it causes problems with the phones performance. It will be great to finally have a google service.
  • Well I'll say this. There was a "Sales Tech" at my VZW store and I took my Nexus in for some issue and he told me the same thing about Lookout Mobile. I hadn't had a single issue since installing it before so naturally he insisted that this was causing my issue. After some time and talking with someone else it was determined to be a software issue and not an "app". So take that for what it's worth. The "Sales Tech's" are mostly good for selling merchandise. I still use Lookout and am a Premium acct user on all my phones.
  • Lookout is 9 freakin meg!! I'd love to get rid of it. I'd love to have something I could push to the phone from the web, and control and configured from the web. Probably only something built into the OS could do that, but it would make a lot to have the controls of it embedded in the web rather than the phone. The thief already HAS your phone.
  • Avast! Avast fanboy here :)
  • It will not be canceled, it will be yet again bundled up with some app that it has nothing in common with... Kinda like trying to see where my GF is and having to open a Social Media App to do it.
  • I found it is much easier to get a trust worthy girlfriend over wasting my time on one that I must track secretly! :)
  • Treat your girl properly and you won't have to spy on her.
  • Christ, are people still butthurt over Reader? Posted via Android Central App
  • I'll never forgive Google for getting rid of Catalogs.
  • I am still upset they stopped supporting the G1... I mean come on Google... Posted via Android Central App
  • The thing I love about Android is that Christmas comes like 8 times a year. Excited about this feature. Posted via Android Central App
  • +1 Posted via Android Central App
  • so this is similar to the google apps device policy but for us common folk
  • Guess I might not need Find My Phone later. But the 4.2 requirement highlights the problem with manufactures not upgrading. So many new Google features have 4.2 or 4.3 as the requirement and Sadly my GS3 (and millions of others) are lagging behind.
  • Read it again. The requirement is Android 2.2, not 4.2. That's Froyo.
  • It only says 2.2 twice - once in the byline and once in the article - so I could see how you could have missed that. Does anyone know if the recent surge in Android 2.X support for Google released apps is a direct result of the API's being moved into Google Play Services or not? The coincidence was not missed on me, though I don't know enough about the programming to understand it fully.
  • No you still need that app because Google Inc is planing to discontinue after like five months. Remember so many different services they have already discontinued!
  • But to be honest, they usually discontinued services that weren't popular with too many people.
  • @zatgaifromfienna The definition of proper treatment unfortunately is subjective. And a two-way street.
  • You mean two services? One of which had about ten users and the other of which is just an outdated version of an existing app? Posted via Android Central App
  • Finally! Thank you Google. Third party apps (like Cerberus) can do more, but at least everyone will now have a basic phone location/wipe tool.
  • I lover Cerberus. It has helped me in a couple situations. My brother recently misplaced his phone. Since he runs stock, his options of locating it were fairly limited. This is great that it will be available to everyone.
  • Agreed. Cerberus is fantastic. Posted via Android Central App
  • I must admit that every year I'm seeing less need for root access on my phone... don't get me wrong, there is still a need for it, but it's starting to become less as Google and OEMs are stepping up to provide solutions e.g. cloud saves, app backups, remote wipe etc. Still a long way to go but this is heartening
  • Agree. Wondering if I will root my next device. Mostly have it now for Titanium backup and stickmount. Not using a custom rom.
  • Ditto.
  • correct me if Im wrong but you need root to back up app data. And this is important to me.
  • the free app called helium allows you to backup your data too and does a great job.
  • If this doesn't have the features Cerberus has I'll continue using that... Posted from my Paranoid Nexus⁴ via Android Central App
  • #Innovation ツⓖ◎◎ⓖⓛⓔ†
  • Great News!! Posted via Android Central App
  • Let's see if it'll make me drop Seekdroid. Been using it (free version) for years now.
  • I'll add it, and keep Cerberus. Always good to have a backup strategy.
  • Well, that means tasker has one less task to do!
  • Just wondering, of you lose your phone somewhere outside of home, and then you track it down and find its location; How many people would ACTUALLY go out to that location trying to find it? I mean seriously, would you go out with the tracking data trying to find it? Posted via Android Central App
  • After dropping $500+ on a device? You're damn right I would. Posted via Android Central App
  • What a dumb comment. Majority of the people would after spending more than 500.00 and it's your own property.
  • No need to be rude, dude... That said, I think your right, most people would. I would ring every doorbell within a half kilometer hoping to find who found it, and hoping such a person would have the noesty of giving it back. On top of having Sony's remote location for now, my home screen has my better half's phone number, and a QR code contact of my better half's phone and my Gmail address, and a paper with the same info between my phone and Incipio case. Tracking is nice and all, but it also helps to make sure people can find you to say they've found it.
  • Happened to a buddy of mine with an iPhone. He tracked it down to the house it was in and rang the bell. While talking to the person he started calling the phone with his GF's phone and the person finally coughed it up.
  • Probably not many. Reporting a lost phone to local authorities will get you no where.
    You'd have to track down the phone on your own. Many would question of it's worth it depending on where it's current location. If it's in a rough area of town, you'd have to question wether it's worth loosing your life trying reclaim a $500 phone that will be outdated within 6 months to a year.
  • Yeah, I got my S3 stolen, by the guy I was trying to sell it to. It was night, and he ran into a dark alley. It wasn't worth chasing him. I'm not sure, why someone would sell their soul for a phone, but oh well. GOD is Good. Posted via Android Central App
  • Um yes. Absofuckinglutely. I wouldn't just write it off. Posted via Android Central App
  • Thank you
  • Wow! Google's on a roll tightening up to offer a stellar ecosystem. Posted via Android Central App
  • Look! Latitude reimplemented! Posted via Android Central App
  • Awesome. I've been waiting for an official tracking app by Google. I have used seek droid before and they are all good apps, but nothing beats a built in app for the os. Automatically syncing when you first register your device and not have to do anything after that would be great. Can't wait to see this. Posted via Android Central App
  • About freaking time. Can't recall how many times I've asked them to include this exact feature. Even sent an email to Phil a while back asking if he had any idea why this wasn't included thinking maybe he would ask them and write an article or something.
  • Hopefully this will be an integral part of the phone that someone can't remove, i.e. thief. And if the person did a reset on the phone it's automatically re-added so the actual owner can remotely do things.
  • One advantage if this over 3rd party apps is that if it's integrated into the Google services framework, it may be much more difficult for a thief to disable it. Right now, a thief who knows what they're doing (I realize most probably don't) could uninstall lookout or seekdroid before you can get somewhere to track it or wipe it. If it's in the services framework, especially once new devices and Rom updates have that version built in (to avoid getting around it by uninstalling updates), it should be more resilient. Of course, they could still keep it off the network, but if it's built into the Rom and tied to your Google account (which can't be removed without wiping), they'd have to wipe the device anyway to disable it. Admittedly, most street thieves probably don't care about the data and would wipe it when they go to flip the device, but still, it seems like a good thing to have it built in.
  • You can install Cerberus as a system app by flashing it with Rom manager and it will survive a system wipe.
  • One question I have, will Google keep tracking your phone after a remote wipe? I would hope so. Cerberus will if installed with root privileges.
  • Don't use one now, and probably should have set one up by this point. But, at least when this one comes out, I'll give it a shot and actually start tracking and keeping track of my phone.
  • This app is awesome and I've been using it for a long time now: android lost Cheers,
  • Second thumbs up for Android Lost. Lot's of other interesting tools comes with it as well. You can push a message out to a phone and if the person who has it pushes a button you will be emailed a picture of that person , remotely record audio in the vicinity of the phone and other fun toys.
  • Check out Cerebus. It has all of that and more.
  • Fully functional FREE app trumps all EVERY TIME.
  • Good to see this offered. I'm presuming it will be preloaded on most devices. Much more likely for people to use it then. Also one less talking point otehr platforms have over Android.
  • Hope it provides almost real-time tracking as well (with a warning that it'll use a bunch of SMS messages) w/o having to press the "lost" button multiple times. Glad it's finally being built into the OS. Only other way to prevent thieves from wiping your phone is to root it before this...
  • Does iOS have something built in like this? This is something that could be expanded on. They could have anti-theft inclusions that take over the phone and lock it down without wiping, turn a GPS on to locate it. You never know if your phone is stolen, or you just can't find it. Imagine you left your phone at the bar. It would be cool to be able to safely log on to the service and disable your phone until you find it... or when in lockdown mode it would allow the person who has your phone to call or text a backup number. Maybe a 3rd party app exists for these scenarios, but it really should come stock and would be a great selling point for any manufacturer.
  • Yes but it requires apple care I believe and it requires you to call them and they ping the phone. This way is much more user friendly. Posted via Android Central App
  • This is something that Windows phone has built in, and that I missed. WP8 has remote lock, wipe, alarm, mapping/ tracking baked into the IS that it's accessed simply by logging in on another device to your Microsoft account. While I know they are other apps available, I missed having the feeling of extra security without on my atrix hd. Glad to see Google will be bringing something similar out soon! Posted via Android Central App
  • requires no app.
  • Oops, yes, it technically does. But is very light weight and seems to be much more difficult to be subverted by a thief.
  • Keeping an eye on this. Been running the free version of Seekdroid and even have a crazy success story/adventure where it saved my butt earlier this year. So I have massive respect for the need of such utilities.
  • Actually, this kind of reminds me of Microsoft. Once third-party developers successfully utilize built-in capabilities, they launch their own app!
  • About bloody time!
    A mate of mine who lost his iPhone told me how he was able to remotely block and wipe his phone. Posted via Android Central App
  • Well, what do you know? This *IS* the droid I'm looking for.
  • I guess it's better to extremely overdue and late, than never.
  • Wonder how it compares to Cerberus. Lucky I've been holding out. Posted via Android Central App
  • As someone who used the Google apps version of this to locate a stolen phone and then use the siren feature to help the cops find it during the search, this is great they are bringing it to regular accounts. Posted via Android Central App
  • The question is, is it a free app or will we have to pay for the service?
  • This is very good news, especially for the masses who don't frequent sites like Android Central. How often do we read first posts by people whose phone is lost or stolen, asking if they can install something remotely after the fact to recover it. If this becomes part of the standard suite pre-installed, there's cause for hope.
  • YES! Posted via Android Central App
  • After losing latitude, I'm a bit stoked about this. So if you can use it on 3 phones and you have the other 2 folks(wife,and kid) have the account info. You can all keep track of each other. Yes? I hope thats the case anyway. Thats not what Google intended but it seems like it should work. Unless you some need a G+ account to make it work.
  • If it's anything like find my iPhone, they will get an email every time you track them. Otherwise, yes Posted via Android Central App
  • Be nice, I'm new. So all we can do now is activate and an App will follow?
  • Is the tracking site for it up yet? I can't find where I'd go to find my phone.