I can’t imagine the awful feeling that would hit your gut if you realized you lost your phone or that someone had stolen it. Our lives are so attached to smartphones that being without one while on the go, knowing that someone else might be trying to access its data, is a frightening thought.
There are ways to track lost or stolen devices. Google has its “Find My Device” website and app that will keep track of your phones or watches. Apple has their Find My service that does the same.
According to a new report, Google might be cooking up a way to locate a device even if it has powered off. This would be a pretty powerful addition to the tools that allow for locating a missing device.
Apple already has this in their Find My service, so we’re clear. If you lose almost any Apple device and it has little to no battery life, the Find My app uses the hundreds of millions of iPhones, iPads, and Macs around the world to “securely send the location of your missing device to iCloud,” so you can then locate it.
For Google’s similar feature, 91 Mobiles believes that Google is working on something called “Pixel Power-Off Finder.” Google has built a new Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) for Android 14 called “hardware.google.bluetooth.power_off_finder” that has been shared with partners who might want to use it. The interesting thing about that first name is that it suggests Google may be working on this as a Pixel exclusive feature, but the generic naming of the HAL makes it sound like others could use it and name it as their own.
Whatever the use case ends up being, the idea is that when your phone’s battery life is extremely low or the device is off, its Bluetooth chip would be kept on in order to ping nearby devices that could then share its locations. Again, this would be like Apple’s Find My network.
Since we don’t know which devices have the hardware capable of powering off and leaving Bluetooth on, we don’t know if this feature could be implemented backwards to the Pixel 7 or if it’ll only be available to the Pixel 8 and onwards. As a potential Android 14 feature, there’s always a chance we’ll learn that piece of info over the coming weeks from a developer preview.