Why doesn’t Android have a built in “find lost phone” function? What are some alternatives?

by: Andrew GrushJune 12, 2013


Keep in mind that’s just a fraction of what’s out there. Do a quick search on Google Play and you will discover that Android security apps come in all shapes, sizes and prices. There are also solutions offered directly from some manufacturers, like Samsung’s “Find My Mobile” feature.

Still, why doesn’t Google offer its own built-in free or low-cost security solution? The massive amounts of existing Android security programs show that there is clearly a market for such a thing.

Android’s open nature, fragmentation and technical aspects

The most obvious reason has to do with Android’s open nature. There are tons of Android devices out there with different hardware specs, software, apps and OEM customizations.

This wide range could make it difficult to roll out a unified, built-in security app or “find my phone” feature for Android. Of course if solutions like Cerberus and Avast can work across a wide range of devices, regardless of skins and customizations – it seems silly to think that Google couldn’t do the same thing.

There appears to be nothing from a technical sense that holds Google back from releasing its own security app for everyday users, at least that I’m aware of. Especially when we consider Google already offers a feature like this for those with paid Google Apps.

Existing security solutions and partnerships

Could it be that existing partnerships are getting in the way? There are already OEMs and carriers that have their own security solutions in place. As already mentioned, there are also tons of Android security apps found on Google Play.

Part of the beauty of an open system is freedom of choice. It could be that Google doesn’t want to get in the way of its partners by offering their own solution.

Of course, Google isn’t afraid to offer other services and apps that are also offered by partners.

Perhaps Google just doesn’t want to get involved?

There’s also the possibility that Google simply doesn’t want to get involved directly with your phone’s hardware if it gets lost, stolen, etc.

Right now, if something goes wrong with an Apple device, where do you take it? To Apple of course. The same goes for an HTC, Sony, Samsung or just about any device out there.

If you lose your phone, you either go to a third party app or you deal with the OEM that designed your phone. Google might prefer to keep it that way.

Sure, they already offer phone wipe services for its business users, but that’s a niche group. A built-in (or even free downloadable) Google “Find my phone” service would require Google to devote more resources into developing and maintaining such functions for a wide range of users. Such a service might not cost us users any money, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t cost Google a pretty penny to roll out such a service.

Honestly, why bother offering your own solution if plenty of other developers, OEMs and carriers don’t mind doing it for you?

Should Google offer a consumer-targeted security solution?

Regardless of why Google doesn’t offer its own “Find My Phone” features for everyday Android users, it is still one of the few things that most other platforms have that Google doesn’t offer (at least not outside of Google Apps for Business).

As Android users, we aren’t used to others having features we don’t, at least not when it comes to features that matter. So should Google go ahead and bring out some kind of free/cheap security app feature that allows phone wiping and tracking?

While it would be nice to have the option, if Google hasn’t brought it out yet – it’s clearly not a priority for the company, and they likely have their reasons. Whether its infrastructure, the open nature of the platform, or something else entirely.

Ultimately most of us techie-types probably don’t care one way or the other. After all, it’s not exactly hard to find a good, 3rd party solution. That said, it would be a welcome feature for those new to Android, whether its their first smartphone or they are coming from locked down rival platforms like iOS.

What do you think, should Google add a security service of their own? Or do you feel that existing solutions do the job well enough that it isn’t necessary for Google to get involved here?

  • Kwadwo Firempong-Boakye

    AirDroid is another cool alternative too

    • Andrew Grush

      Page 2 talks about the possible reasons why. :)

  • MasterMuffin

    KLP (or JB 4.3)!

  • guest

    What about Prey project?

    • Dtect


  • rasty++

    Cerberus is the app! :D

  • Guest
  • RarestName

    Is there a Find My Friends alternative?

    • Alex Golubev

      Google Latitude, try that.

  • Me

    Yes, Android has an app to remote location your device, calls Google Maps / Latitude.

    By the way, a guest here previously posted a link to Google Apps Policy, but that is only for subscriptions Google Apps for Business and so on…

  • Alex Crouse

    Wheres my droid. perfect app.

  • Tony

    Hey, why not check this out it is free and can do much more than some of the other stuff out there.

  • Tony
  • Leonardo Baez

    i think it should be in manufacturers hands, not OS.

    In case of samsung, they offer a recovery app to retrieve lost or stolen phones.


  • Recud

    samsung do provide one standard with all their devices called Samsung dive.
    log in with your samsung account ( which you should have on your phone ) and away you go.

  • joser116

    There’s no reason for Google not to implement such a feature. If costs are the problem, why would Google bother building Play Game Services? I’m sure that would have cost more than a Find my Android service. If Apple can do it, then so can Google. There’s even independent developers that offer such services and much more for free and for the majority of Android devices, for example Android Lost.

  • Raymond Marx

    So what’s AVG’s free antivirus?!? Last I checked I could do all that for free, So can Google and it’s easy if you actually use Google’s software instead of your scamware you’re trying to convince everyone they need to buy so you can get your kick back

  • Chris Boots

    ? Samsung galaxy s2 & above does have that you can locate your phone, wipe it and lock it remotely??

  • yimatong

    tinyurl.com/l3cselt fghfghf

  • Paulo

    Many users are not aware of this possibility. Google should offer, at least to Nexus devices.