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Google's Find My Device could soon get UWB and AR upgrades (APK teardown)

UWB support, if and when it happens, could usher in a new generation of Android trackers that enable precise location.
By

Published onJune 6, 2024

Google Find my Device
Damien Wilde / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Code within the Find My Device app suggests that Google is working on adding support for UWB tech to the network.
  • We’ve also found code referencing AR actions, which speculatively ties in nicely with the precision finding feature that UWB tech enables.
  • Neither of these features is currently live and may or may not roll out in the future.

Google’s Find My Device received a sorely delayed but much-needed upgrade recently. You can tap into the omnipresence of Android phones and tablets around you to locate your lost Android device, supercharging the Find My Device network to a scale that rivals and even beats Apple’s Find My network. However, Apple’s Find My network still edges out ahead when it comes to utilizing ultra-wideband (UWB) tech, even though several Android flagships also come with UWB. Google could finally be working on using UWB with Find My Device, and it could also spice it up with an AR upgrade.

An APK teardown helps predict features that may arrive on a service in the future based on work-in-progress code. However, it is possible that such predicted features may not make it to a public release.

Find My Device could soon get UWB support

We’ve located code references in the latest Find My Device v3.1.078-1 app update that indicate Google is working on UWB features.

Code
com/google/android/libraries/precisionfinding/ranging/UwbAdapter
com/google/android/libraries/precisionfinding/ranging/UwbAdapter$1
com/google/android/libraries/precisionfinding/ranging/UwbAdapter$2
Local UWB address: %s
Local UWB capabilities: %

We’ve spotted plenty of mentions of UWBAdapter libraries and numerous other UWB mentions.

Find My Device UWB clues

Google hasn’t yet mentioned utilizing UWB tech within Find My Device, so this code spotting is quite the news. It’s also the next logical upgrade for the Find My Device network.

Apple equips several of its devices with UWB tech to enable high-precision indoor location tracking. UWB is also the not-so-secret sauce behind AirTag’s precise location tracking feature, which comes in very handy if you have located the general area of your lost item but still need help pinpointing where exactly it is.

Find My Device could soon let you use AR too

Alongside the UWB mentions, we’ve also spotted code mentions for ARCore support within Find My Device. Some of the strings are mentioned below:

Code
This application requires the latest version of Google Play Services for AR.
This feature requires the latest version of Google Play Services for AR.
Installing Google Play Services for AR

The code is just the initial implementation for ARCore (aka Google Play Services for AR), so it’s not immediately clear what features ARCore will enable.

Speculatively, ARCore ties in well with UWB support for precision finding. You could point your device in front of you, and ARCore could use the camera feed and overlay it with directions and icons to help you find your device in your immediate vicinity (which is what UWB support will enable).

We see some of this in action with the Galaxy SmartTag 2, which uses UWB tech on Samsung’s SmartThings network and also uses AR for the item location UI.

The caveat with the Galaxy SmartTag 2 is that it needs a Samsung Galaxy phone with UWB tech to work and further needs the SmartThings app for its location functionality.

Since AR support for UWB is not specifically mentioned yet, there is a possibility that the AR-based UI could be available more generally within Find My Device and not remain restricted to UWB trackers and devices.

If and when Google adds UWB support to Find My Device, we predict it will usher in a new generation of Android trackers that will work more broadly across Android devices. With an AR-based UI, Android will have a slight edge in locating lost items nearby until Apple catches up with the same trick.

Neither UWB support nor the AR-based location UI are currently live within the Find My Device app. These features may or may not roll out in the future.

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