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For the past several years, the icon for the Find My Device app on Android has been a white pin with a phone at the center against a green background. It conveyed the map-based nature of the application. Google in 2022 did tweak it to remove shadows and better match other modern logos.
The obvious visual downside is that the logo will blend into the sea of other blue/red/yellow/green icons on your phones. Staying green, which evoked a sense of security and Android to a degree, would have better distinguished the app, especially since it’s one that you might be looking for in a panic. As of late, Google has shown a willingness to not bring the four-color design to apps like Play Books. That said, Google Authenticator and Arts & Culture clearly went the other direction.
This icon will presumably make an appearance when the Find My Device network launches later this summer. Google will let you view the location of tracker tags, headphones (launching later), and your mobile devices. The app will guide you when something is close with the ability to play a sound.
Google says “location data crowdsourced from the network is end-to-end encrypted, which ensures Google can’t see or use it for any other purposes,” with more details on the built-in privacy safeguards coming before the launch.
Google has just publicly unveiled its plans for a “Find My Device network” on Android that can seamlessly locate tracker tags (including Tile products), headphones, and phones.
While Google has long offered the “Find My Device” app, it’s currently only able to roughly locate devices via an internet connection or based on where they were last connected with Bluetooth. This can be useful for locating a lost phone, but it doesn’t help much for finding missing earbuds.
Beyond that, there’s a vast market of Bluetooth tracker tags, useful for making everyday objects locatable. Just last week, Google and Apple announced a partnership to make Bluetooth trackers and AirTags safer by alerting you to the presence of an unwanted tracker on your person. This functionality is now set to launch later this summer.
At Google I/O 2023, the company is finally announcing its (long in development) “Find My Device network,” which massively overhauls the way that lost objects can be found. If your phone joins the Find My Device network, it will periodically check for nearby devices to help crowdsource the location of any missing devices.
Importantly, Google emphasizes that “the Find My Device network was built with user privacy as a key priority.” To that end, the data used is end-to-end encrypted, “which ensures Google can’t see or use it for any other purposes.” The company says it will detail more of the network’s security and privacy safeguards ahead of launch this summer.
The Find My Device network is also expanding to two new classes of gadgets: headphones and Bluetooth trackers. Following firmware updates coming soon to headphones from Sony and JBL – as well as “existing Pixel Buds” – your headphones will be locatable via the massive network of over 1 billion Android devices worldwide.
Meanwhile, tracker tags from Tile, Chipolo, and Pebblebee will soon be fully integrated into the Find My Device network, potentially making tracking more robust while also removing the need for a brand-specific app. Notably, Google’s announcement makes no mention of the frequently-rumored Nest locator tag, aka “Grogu.”
Apple and Google team up to bring AirTag-like unwanted tracking alerts to all item trackers on iPhone and Android
Apple has announced a major new partnership with Google today to lead an “industry specification to address unwanted tracking.” Through the partnership, Apple and Google will create a “draft specification” to alert users about possible unwanted tracking by AirTags and other Bluetooth item trackers.
Currently, iOS offers a robust set of features to counter unwanted tracking and stalking with AirTag item trackers. The native iOS features, however, aren’t open to third-party item tracker companies such as Tile. Apple does offer a “Tracker Detect” application to locate nearby AirTags with an Android device, the app doesn’t scan for nearby accessories in the background. Instead, it only scans a user’s surroundings when the user initiates the scan.
The new technology developed by Apple and Google aims to address those limitations.
Apple revealed the news in a press release on Tuesday morning. As part of this partnership, Apple and Google have submitted a “proposed industry specification” to help combat the misuse of item trackers. The specification created by Apple and Google has been submitted as an Internet-Draft via the Internet Engineering Task Force.
The technology created by the two companies will allow Bluetooth location-tracking devices to be compatible with unauthorized tracking detection and alerts across iOS and Android.
In addition to Apple and Google, companies including Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, Eufy, and Pebblebee have expressed interest in supporting this technology. Apple says that it and Google will solicit feedback from other players in the industry as they continue to develop and refine the technology.
Today Apple and Google jointly submitted a proposed industry specification to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices for unwanted tracking. The first-of-its-kind specification will allow Bluetooth location-tracking devices to be compatible with unauthorized tracking detection and alerts across iOS and Android platforms. Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee have expressed support for the draft specification, which offers best practices and instructions for manufacturers, should they choose to build these capabilities into their products.
Ron Huang, Apple’s vice president of Sensing and Connectivity, explained:
“Apple launched AirTag to give users the peace of mind knowing where to find their most important items. We built AirTag and the Find My network with a set of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking — a first in the industry — and we continue to make improvements to help ensure the technology is being used as intended. This new industry specification builds upon the AirTag protections, and through collaboration with Google results in a critical step forward to help combat unwanted tracking across iOS and Android.”
Apple and Google will release a production implementation of the specification for unwanted tracking alerts by the end of 2023. The technology will then be supported in future versions of iOS and Android.
Find My Device rolls out Material You redesign with dark theme [U]
While the Find My Device app on Android gets the occasional update, Google has not revamped its UI in several years. That’s now changing with a big Material You redesign for Find My Device that also includes a dark theme.
Update 2/8: An updated version (2.5.011) of Find My Device is widely rolling out via the Play Store today. The changelog notes:
- Refreshed app design
- Find My Device can now help you locate devices, even if they’re offline by encrypting and storing your device’s most recent location with Google
Original 1/18: Upon updating to version 2.5.001, you’re finally greeted with a dark theme and modern account picker. This Find My Device redesign does away with the green accent for Dynamic Color throughout the UI.
After signing in, you’re now greeted with a list of devices associated with your account. Google has removed the integrated map view where your devices appear at the top underneath the app bar. The new list approach is much easier to browse with larger icons than before and more friendly thanks to the device name being listed next to each picture.
Once you make a selection, the map takes up more of the screen, while you get the same device information as before, including battery percentage and network. You can then Play sound, Secure device, and Erase device from the bottom of the sheet.
Tap the arrow in the top-left to return to all your devices, while the other corner is home to a modern Google Account switcher. Settings just links to Google Play services.
It’s somewhat surprising that Google didn’t use this redesign as an opportunity to release a new icon that will presumably be four-colored. Logo tweaks were made early last year. Meanwhile, the Find My Device website is unchanged today and still green.
The Find My Device redesign with version 2.5.001 is not yet widely rolled out via Google Play.