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The Pixel 8a can also be located through Find My Device when it's out of battery

If you lose your Pixel 8a and it's out of battery, you’ll still be able to locate it through the Find My Device network.

Published onMay 8, 2024

Pixel 8a Part Breakdown
  • The Pixel 8a, like the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, supports Android’s powered-off finding feature.
  • Powered-off finding enables devices to be located on Google’s Find My Device network even when they’re off or have run out of battery.
  • This is made possible by specialized hardware that reserves power to the phone’s Bluetooth chip for several hours.

Google’s Find My Device network finally launched last month, and although its rollout has been slow and limited to the United States and Canada so far, there’s a lot to look forward to. Once fully rolled out globally, the Find My Device network will help billions of Android users find their lost devices. Select Android devices like the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro can be located through the Find My Device network even when powered off or out of battery. This is made possible by specialized hardware on the Pixel 8 series, which means it can’t be enabled through an over-the-air update on other devices. Thankfully, it looks like Google’s newly launched Pixel 8a will also support this feature.

The way that Google’s Find My Device network works is basically as follows. Android devices that contribute to the Find My Device network broadcast a beacon over Bluetooth that other nearby Android devices can pick up on. The devices that pick up this beacon then encrypt the location of the broadcasting device and upload it to Google’s servers. Location data is end-to-end encrypted with a key that’s only accessible to the broadcasting device’s owner and whoever the owner shared the location of that device with.

Most Android devices can’t broadcast beacons over Bluetooth when powered off or out of battery, though. This is because their Bluetooth chips don’t have any way to continue receiving power when the operating system tells the CPU to shut everything down. Google told me last month that the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro have reserve power channeled to the Bluetooth chip for several hours even after the battery is dead. While the company hasn’t come out yet and confirmed that the same is true of their new Pixel 8a, we have good reason to believe it is.

If you have a Pixel 8 or Pixel 8 Pro, you’ll be able to locate your phone on the Find My Device network even if it’s powered off or the battery is dead! This is possible because the phones have the specialized hardware to support the Powered Off Finding feature I previously…
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) April 8, 2024

Our assertion is based on the fact that the Pixel 8a supports Android’s Powered-Off Finding feature. Powered-Off Finding is the name of the Android API that allows the system to send precomputed Find My Device network beacons to the device’s Bluetooth chip. We know the Pixel 8a supports Powered-Off Finding because Google set the system property ro.bluetooth.finder.supported to true on the device. This system property is only set to true when a device supports Powered-Off Finding, which means the Pixel 8a must also have the specialized hardware necessary for its Bluetooth chip to continue broadcasting beacons after the phone has been powered off.

The Pixel 8a supporting Powered-Off Finding shouldn’t come as a surprise since it runs on the same Tensor G3 silicon and has the same Bluetooth chip, but it’s still good to know that this feature is supported on Google’s latest mid-range device. Google is working with hardware vendors to bring support for this feature to future Android devices, so hopefully this capability won’t be exclusive to Google’s Pixel lineup for long.

Once you receive your Pixel 8a, you should be able to enable Powered-Off Finding by simply opting into the Find My Device network. If you choose the “off” or “without network” options in Find My Device’s settings, Powered-Off Finding won’t work. Of course, if you turn off the Bluetooth radio or disable location services, the feature also won’t work since the Find My Device network relies on them.

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