Google to release Apple-like 'Find My Phone' app at long last

One of the last pivotal shortcomings of the Android OS ecosystem finally sees a solution for devices running Android 2.2 and up.

Google

One of the few OS perks iPhone owners have still held over the heads of their Android compatriots is Apple's official -- and free -- app for locating and remote wiping a lost device.

After years of user complaints and shoddy third-party variants, Google has finally answered iOS's "Find My iPhone" feature with a locator of its own: the Android Device Manager.

To be released later this month, the app will let Android users find and ring a misplaced or stolen device on a map in real time, as well as wipe its contents remotely. The feature will be available for users running Android 2.2 or later.

Google's solution to the increasing problem of device theft comes at a time when smartphone manufacturers have seen mounting pressure from authorities to add software-side features that could help curb what has been called a violent crime epidemic . Some initiatives, discussed at a meeting between lawmakers and tech giants like Apple and Samsung in June , have included the potential for a "kill switch," which would permanently brick a stolen device and make it worthless for resale.

But just how violent is smartphone theft -- which has picked up the unique law enforcement nickname of "Apple picking" -- becoming these days? Examples abound, including the killing of a 26-year-old Museum of Modern Art employee for his iPhone in the Bronx and the mugging of a Crown Heights, Brooklyn woman over her Android device at gunpoint.

About the author

Nick Statt is a staff writer for CNET. He previously wrote for ReadWrite and was a news associate at the social magazine app Flipboard. He spends a questionable amount of his free time contemplating his relationship with video games while continuously exploring the convergence of tech, science and pop culture.

 

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