Google is believed to be working on creating a network that is powered by Android phones, which will allow them to trace, locate and identify phones that may have been lost or misplaced. This will, in many ways, be similar to Apple’s very powerful Find My network that can be used to track lost iPhones, iPads, Macs and even the new AirTag trackers. This will be an extension of Android’s present Find My Device option, and the toggle the Find My Device network is showing up for some users running the latest beta version of the Google Play Services update. This may allow Android phones to be located even if they are powered off—at present, Find My Device can only find phones that are switched on and have a mobile data or Wi-Fi connection active.
The latest Google Play Services beta that has been further explained by 9to5Google seems to indicate that joining the network or opting out would very much be the user’s choice. They have also discovered something called Spot, which will use encryption and an encryption key that will get refreshed at specific intervals. At this time, it is not clear what this new network of Android phones will be able to track, and whether it will just be limited to phones. Google has not officially said anything about this feature just yet, and it isn’t exactly clear if the new functionality will solve the limitation in tracking if a lost Android phone doesn’t have mobile data or Wi-Fi connectivity.
Android phones as part of a network is something Google has been working on, off late. A few days ago, the company talked about the expansion of the Android Earthquake Alert system which would be rolling out globally this year. This system uses accelerometers built into most Android smartphones to detect seismic waves that indicate an earthquake. If the phone detects such shaking or vibrations, it sends a signal to Google’s earthquake detection server, with a general location of the phone. The server then verifies this information with other Android phones in the region to check if they are reporting similar movements, to understand if an earthquake is happening.