Google plans Android version of Apple's Find My network

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Google may be working on its own version of Apple's Find My network, with a beta release of Google Play Services for Android suggesting the smartphones could be used to track other devices in a similar way to Apple's major feature.

The Find My network is designed to make it possible for lost items to be found, by leveraging the high number of iPhones being used. It seems that Google may be coming up with its own alternative to the same system.

An APK teardown of the beta release for Google Play Services 21.24.13 on Thursday reveals text strings mentioning the "Find My Device Network." As discovered by XDA-Developers, a second string says a feature "Allows your phone to help locate your and other people's devices."

Currently, Google offers Android users relocation services using the Find My Device app, but it is a little limited compared to Apple's version. The Android app is only usable to access devices signed into the user's Google account, and doesn't use passing-by devices to locate them.

It seems the "Find My Device Network" feature could work in the same way as Apple's service, in that passing-by devices could report back pings from the lost hardware to the owner. However, while Apple can leverage Ultra Wideband for its Find My Network, Google's version may have to rely on Bluetooth instead, which may hit the accuracy of the service.

The inclusion in a Google Play Services update could enable it on a high number of devices at the same time. As there are over 3 billion Android devices globally, a large proportion will have Google Mobile Services installed, it's plausible that the network could quickly grow to exceed a billion devices in a short timeframe.

The Find My network may be the latest feature that Google copies from Apple to use in Android. In May, Google said it planned to introduce privacy nutrition labels to apps in the Play Store in 2022, echoing Apple's own version.

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