You cannot be the safest anywhere, and cannot keep your phone safe as well. There are times when your phone is stolen, there are times when the device is lost or you left is somewhere and the person who finds it, is not generous to return it back to you. It depends on your luck, but still for many, the phone is not very important. What they need is the content and personal data not to be checked by others.
Google, just like Apple, has its own way to keep a track of the phone and its whereabouts if at all an Android phone is lost. It is called as Android Device Manager, and it has to be activated on your account and the device, to be used to track and control the data on your lost phone.
First things first – What does the Android Device Manager do?
1. Remote Location Tracking: While the Internet connectivity either through Wi-Fi or data network is active on the device, the Android Device Manager will be able to remotely track the location of it. The accuracy is limited though, based on the network and GPS locking. The manager also shows when the device was last online.
2. Ring the Phone: This is not helpful only for the lost phones, but also for those who are sure the device is in the house itself, but are not finding it. Slipped in the couch, may be? From the Android Device Manager, the user can ring the device and the tone would play continuously for five minutes, unless you find the phone and stop it, or stop the ring manually from the Device Manager.
3. Remote Lock: Remote locking comes handy when the person who might have found or stolen your device, has a limited knowledge and is trying to find a way to reset it and erase your information. By remote locking, you are presented with a new lock screen, and your current lock screen is replaced with a password lock. You can also set a Recovery message so that the person got got your phone, might find it alarming enough and return the device back to you.
4. Remote Data Erasing: This performs a factory data reset on your device. The data that gets deleted, includes apps, photos, music, and settings. So, while doing this, you might have to think about it twice because once the data is erased, the Android Device Manager will no longer work.
And, if the content was there on your SD card and not in the phone, that won’t be wiped off as the Device Manager is capable of erasing only the internal storage data.
Note: For all this to happen, the phone has to be connected to the Internet and have the device connected to your Google account.
Recently, the editor of one of the large Tech publications had lost her smartphone, and it was the Apple iPhone, where Find my iPhone feature works in a very similar way, and while trying to locate the device, she also started ringing the phone to check if someone around has it and is trying to hide it. She found it, eventually. The Android Device Manager works in the same way.
The only problem with Android Device Manager, is that it doesn’t collect the location history of the phone, and only the latest location is shown. The location data is deleted when you sign out of the device manager.
How to setup Android Device Manager?
Using the Google account that you used in the Google Play on your Android device, login to Device Manager’s website here.
Select “Setup Lock & Erase”.
Then you need to select “Send”, so that the manager sends a notification to the smartphones that are linked to your Google account. This will notify and ask you to turn the Device Manager “On”.
If you have multiple devices, you can set a name for each device by selecting the phone and then clicking on Edit icon just beside to the name.
Can I use the Device Manager controls from my Android Phone?
Yes, there is an app available in the Play Store, which you can download in your Android phone to control any other device of yours. The options are almost the same, as you find on the web.
If it is a friend’s device you are trying to locate and control, select the option “Guest” and have your friend sign in to their Google account, the one which they have used in the lost phone. The next steps are all the same as explained above.
If you don’t sign out from the friend’s account manually, it gets logged out automatically after five minutes of inactivity.
My lost Android phone’s Internet was turned off. Can I still control it?
No, sadly the Android Device Manager works only if the device’s internet is turned on. If it is off, there is no way you can control it and erase the data, because an active Internet connection is required.
I had hidden my Android phone in Google Play. How can I control it?
You will first have to go to Play Settings, and then change the visibility of the phone. Select the lost phone and beside to the name, tick “Show in menus” so that it can start showing in the Device Manager section. If it is hidden here, you cannot view it in the device manager.
Of course there are some better apps which need only an SMS to be sent, for some remote controls, but if you have the Internet turned on before you lost the Android device, using this is beneficial in several functions, including ringing the phone if you are sure it is still around and you just lost it a few minutes back.
And as Google states as a big disclaimer: If you believe your device has been stolen, contact law enforcement. Don’t attempt to retrieve the device yourself.