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Will Android Device Manager be the last "Find My Device" app?

Android Device Manager is a lot of things. It's simple and easy to use. It's already on a lot of Android handsets. Is it the last "find my device" app ever?
August 12, 2013
Android Device Manager

Android Device Manager has received a lot of press lately and for good reason. It’s a solid little application that will find your phone wherever it might be. It also gives you a small selection of tools to either help you find your phone or erase it as the situation warrants. With this awesome new feature out, the question has to be asked. Will this replace the competition?

There are a lot of “find my phone” type applications. One of the most popular apps that strictly finds your phone is called Cerberus and there are many more like it. The “find my phone” functionality is even baked into some anti-virus apps. So there is no lack of options when it comes to using this feature.

Is Android Device Manager enough to kill of the competition? We’ll make this quick and easy and answer with a resounding no. There are several reasons for this and even though most of the reasons are pretty simple, the bottom line is that even if Android Device Manager is a great app, it’s still a very young app that doesn’t have a lot of features.

Since Cerberus is the benchmark for everything a “find my device” app should be, we’ll compare Android Device Manager to it. Let’s begin.

  • Cerberus has every feature that the Android Device Manager has. This includes a website interface to track, the ability to wipe the phone, and the ability to ring the phone to help you find it. Another common feature is neither app shows up in the app drawer. Cerberus hides itself while Android Device Manager hides in the Google Settings app.
  • Cerberus adds a lot of functionality. You can lock the device with a code, control via SMS, prevent unauthorized users from installing apps, record audio using the phone mic, and get a list of calls sent and received.
  • One of Cerberus’ most unique features is the ability to detect whether a new SIM card has been dropped into your device. Obviously this is for GSM devices only, but it would be nice to know if someone’s put a new SIM in your phone to use it as their own. The SIM Checker feature also tells you the new number of the phone. It’ll also tell you what carrier and network the device is on. These are all very, very handy things to be able to do.
  • Rooted users can actually prevent people from uninstalling the app unless they wipe the device and flash a whole new ROM.
  • If Cerberus is found and uninstalled, you always have Android Device Manager there to back you up. Two is always better than one. Especially when neither service runs a background process unless ordered to remotely and, therefore, consumes no battery life.

We could go on but the point has pretty much been made. Android Device Manager is great, but it cannot stack up to the competition feature for feature. It is simple and easy to use. It gives you the bare essentials that you need if your phone is lost or stolen. The bottom line, though, is most “find my device” apps are capable of these exact same things and more. It’s also highly likely that Google didn’t release this to squash the competition, but rather add a service that will help you that’s always installed no matter what. Perhaps its biggest feature is that it’s a Google service and virtually no Google services constitute as bloatware.

We would love to know what you think. Would you rather use Android Device Manager instead of a third party service? If you have the time, feel free to leave us a comment to tell us what you think.