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Android's 'Find My Device' could soon work even if your phone is off

Apple has had this feature for years, but Google is ready to catch up.

Published onApril 6, 2023

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  • Code sleuthing has uncovered potential plans to expand the Find My Device system to work even when phones are powered off.
  • Apple iPhones have had this perk for many years now.
  • It’s possible this feature would only work with the Pixel 8 series, at least at first.

If you lose your Android phone and it’s powered off, you won’t have much luck locating it. Although there are multiple ways to track an Android phone’s location, none of them work when the phone is powered down. You’ll be left with the last known location only.

Thankfully, it looks like this could change in the near future. Thanks to some code sleuthing from Kuba Wojciechowski (via 91Mobiles), we have hints that Google is working on a way for Find My Device — its hardware location tool — to work even when an Android phone is powered down.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because iPhones can already do this. In fact, iPhones have had this feature for years.

How would this work? According to the leaked code, Bluetooth hardware in the phone would stay powered even when the phone itself is off. When you combine this with ultrawideband (UWB) technology, Google’s servers could pinpoint your phone’s location with a high level of accuracy, even with it turned off.

Of course, for this to be a reality, the phone’s hardware would need to keep the Bluetooth module powered at all times. At the moment, it’s not clear which Android phones support this — if any at all. It’s possible this would be something the Pixel 8 series would do first and then slowly roll out to new Android phones over time.

Remember that Google has an AirTag competitor in the works, codenamed “grogu.” This news today ties in nicely with that, so we’d expect Google to make a big push for Find My Device and compatible hardware this year.

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