Did you forget your smartphone at a friend’s house the other day? Well, you were really lucky! Think if the same thing had happened to you in a public place or, even worse, on the street … how would you have found your beloved phone? You should have simply said goodbye and accepted the loss of all data on the device’s memory.
A real nightmare, right? So try to be foresight and install an application for remote location on your smartphone. Thanks to this type of app, it is possible to trace your phone via the Internet and you can control it remotely, in order to limit the damage regarding data confidentiality.
Tell me, what kind of smartphone do you have? An Android? Well then know that you are spoiled for choice! There are tons of apps you can turn to to locate and control your device remotely, including one that should already be installed on your smartphone. Let’s see what it is and immediately find out how to find Android phone using it, it’s much easier than you think.
Android Device Management
As just mentioned, all the most recent Android smartphones have a “hidden” application that allows you to locate and control the device remotely. This is the Android Device Manager which is offered free of charge by Google and allows you to perform various interesting operations: not only display the position of the phone on a map, but also block the terminal remotely to prevent its use by strangers, send rings and restore Android to the factory state (for when you lose hope of recovering your mobile phone and want to avoid the risk of your data ending up in the hands of some attacker).
The Android Device Manager service works through your internet connection and GPS, so your phone needs to be turned on and connected to the internet for it to work. This factor makes it very useful in cases of loss of the smartphone, but less so in cases of theft: the thief just turns off the phone before taking control (and eventually formatting it) and there is no hope of recovering it.
How to activate Android Device Manager
To use the Android Device Manager service, you must check that your smartphone is correctly associated with your Google account. You also need to verify that geolocation is enabled and that the Android Device Manager function has permission to lock and format the phone remotely.
I know, said so it seems a difficult thing; instead it is child’s play! All you have to do is go to the Android settings (by pressing the gear icon located on the screen with all the apps installed on the device) and check that everything is in order. Here are all the steps you need to take in detail.
- Go to the Settings> Accounts> Google Android menu and make sure the phone is associated with your Google account. Otherwise, go back to the Settings> Accounts menu , press the Add account button and add your Google account;
- Go to the Settings> Android geolocation menu and activate geolocation by moving the lever located at the top right to ON ;
- Open the Google Settings application (the gear icon with the letter “G” in the center), select the Security item and activate the Locate this device remotely and Allow remote locking and deletion functions by moving the relative levers to ON .
If your smartphone does not support Google Play and therefore does not include the Android Device Manager service, try to enable everything by following my guide on how to install Google Play Services.
Find Android phone via Android Device Manager
Once the remote location service has been activated on Android, you can view (and control) your smartphone by connecting to this web page and authenticating with your Google account. Obviously it must be the same account associated with the smartphone to be located.
Within a few seconds you will see the current position of your mobile phone and a menu, placed in the upper left corner of the screen, with some commands to be given to the device. By clicking on the Make ring button you can make the phone ring in order to attract the attention of bystanders (useful if, for example, the smartphone is nearby and you need a way to locate it easily); by clicking on the Lock button you can lock the device with a security code, in order to prohibit strangers from accessing your information, while clicking on Cancelyou can start a complete format of the mobile. Use the last function only in case of extreme necessity – so if your smartphone has been stolen and you have no hope of recovering it -, also because by formatting the device you will lose the ability to locate it again remotely.
The Android Device Management service is also accessible from other Android smartphones and tablets, using the free Android Device Management application that can be downloaded from the Play Store. Its operation is practically identical to that of the Web version service, you will not encounter any problems using it.
When you access the Android Device Manager service, do you not see any devices on the map? Are you shown a message saying No devices registered ? Try to solve the problem by putting into practice the instructions you find below.
- Open the Google Settings application , select the Security item and disable the Find this device remotely and Allow remote blocking and erasing functions .
- Go to the Settings> Android Apps menu , select the All tab (top right) and proceed as follows.
- Select the Google Play Services process and first press the Manage space button and then Delete all data ;
- Select the Google Services Framework process and press the Clear data button ;
- Select the Google Play Store process and press the Clear data button .
- Open the Google Settings application , select the Security item and activate the Locate this device remotely and Allow remote blocking and erasing functions again .
- Go to the Settings> Android Geolocation menu , disable geolocation by moving the lever located at the top right to OFF and reactivate it immediately, moving the lever back to ON .
Now try to connect to the Android Device Manager service again and your smartphone should be correctly detected.
If there are still problems with the remote location service or with other Google services (eg. Play Store), go to the Settings> Account> Google Android menu , select your Gmail address , press the button (…) located at the top of right and select the item Remove account from the menu that opens.
After removing your Google account, turn off your smartphone completely, turn it back on and set up your Google account again by selecting the Add account item from the Settings> Android account menu . At the end of the operation, everything should work as it should (always check that the options relating to remote location and blocking of the device are active in Google Settings ).
If you are unable to activate Android Device Manager on your smartphone, or in any case you are looking for an alternative solution to find an Android phone remotely, take a look at Lost Android which represents one of the best free alternatives to the official Google service.
Once installed on the smartphone, the application disguises itself as an app for notes (so as not to arouse suspicion with its icon in the Android menu) and perform many functions aimed at recovering and protecting lost mobile phones: displays the geographical position of the device on a map, take photos, record audio, retrieve the history of calls and messages, make your mobile phone ring, activate and deactivate connections to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (on some terminals only) and much more. All without requiring root permissions.
Another interesting feature of Lost Android is that it allows you to control the phone remotely via SMS, so even if a thief turns off Wi-Fi or there is no active Internet connection, it is possible to control the terminal remotely. Find the complete list of commands here (under Available SMS commands ).
After installing Lost Android, for the application to do its job, you need to do the following.
- Start Lost Android on the mobile phone to be monitored and press the Administrator Rights button to grant the application permission to control the device;
- Connect to this web page from your computer, click on the Sign In item on the right, log in with the same Google account used on the smartphone to be monitored and click on the Allow button .
Mission accomplished! From this moment on you can connect to the Lost Android website from any PC and control your smartphone remotely. To retrieve the geographical position of the mobile phone, click on the Controls button and press on Send location . For the other commands available in the service (in English but easy to understand) select the icons located under the Controls button : Status to activate / deactivate the various connections; Messages to send or receive messages from your mobile; Security to lock or format the device and so on.
Note: in case you want to uninstall Lost Android from your smartphone, go to the Settings> Security> Device administrators menu and remove the check mark from the item relating to Personal Notes (the fake name used by Lost Android to disguise itself). Otherwise you will not have the necessary permissions to remove the app and you will not be able to uninstall it.
More apps to find android phone
Finally, let me point you to some other Android phone finder apps available on the Google Play Store. As already mentioned there are really something for all tastes, both free and paid.
- Cerberus – according to many, the best anti-theft app available for Android. It allows you to locate and control the device remotely like the free apps we met in this tutorial, but it offers many additional functions that make it almost unbeatable. For example, it allows you to block the phone from being switched off, to reactivate the GPS in case of deactivation, to “spy” on thieves by taking photos and recording the surrounding audio and much more. It costs 4.99 euros but you can try it for free for 7 days. It should be noted that some of the more advanced functions of the app require the root.
- Avast Anti-Theft – anti- theft app produced by the same company that produces the antivirus of the same name. It allows you to locate the phone remotely and to control it both via the Internet and via SMS. It also allows you to take pictures remotely, show messages on the mobile screen and much more. It’s free.
- Prey – another highly rated anti-theft app on the Play Store. It allows you to monitor up to three devices with the same account and to locate / control the mobile phone remotely. Free.
- Lookout – an all-in-one security solution that includes an anti-malware for Android and a service to locate and control the smartphone remotely. It also allows you to know the last known position of the phone before turning off the device. Free (in its basic version).