11
Dec
11

Google rolled out the Android Device Manager a few months ago, but for whatever reason, there was no matching Android app. That changes today as Google has finally gotten around to releasing one. The app contains all the functionality from the website in a mobile-friendly package and it is, of course, free.

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The Android Device Manager lets you track, lock, ring, and wipe any of the Android devices on your account. The web version works fine on Android devices through the browser, but a native app is still a preferable experience. The UI scales to both tablets and phones, and there is a handy drop down menu for switching accounts. It's also much faster than the mobile web.

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The Android app is obviously only of use if you have more than one Android device, like a phone and a tablet. But if you ever misplace one of them, you'll be happy to have the ADM app at the ready. In yet another sign that Google has a sense of humor, if you locate the device you are running the app on, it says "in your hand." Oh, Google.

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Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • remister

    I always use the website, but this will do also.

    • osi

      "Always" ? How often do you lose your phone ? :D

      • remister

        I have random people at work touching my phone, gets them everytime!

  • abqnm

    A little Google humor was thrown in too. Look at the location when you locate the device you are running the app on.

    • pyroflyx

      I was just about to post this! My wife and I had a good laugh!

    • sivkai

      Wrong. It was on my table.

      • h_f_m

        I guess one star rating in that case!

    • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

      Not working for me sadly. For whatever reason, it is saying "unavailable" to me; with wifi and location on.

      • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

        email address ends @googlemail.com by any chance?

        • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

          No, it's gmail.com

      • Nikolay Chakrakchiev

        Same. Location is on.

    • miltiekfi981

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      • Mike Harris

        Word for word, this is the same comment made by someone below named yahyoh. Are you a bot or just a troll?

  • yahyoh

    And its still useless IMO ( full wipe will make it useless ) , Google should use like machinisme to link the device IMEI with the Gmail account ( something like apple service that introduced with IOS7 ) so the device need to be activated with the Gmail to be able yo use it even after factory rest

    • pyroflyx

      That would make it more useful. I wouldn't say this is useless. If I can't get my device back, I would like to wipe it. If I wipe it or they do, my data is gone at least.

    • josh_yth

      this is still better than nothing. Or you can use Cerberus, and make it a system app, and prevent it from being deleted when you or someone try to wipe the phone.

    • Mike Harris

      What you're describing sounds like it would be kind of a nightmare for the secondhand smartphone market. What if you sold your device to someone, but forgot to "deactivate" it from your account?

      Also, what if there was no network connection available when doing the activation? Either the new user would be stuck until they could connect... or the device would not have a chance to phone home and check the IMEI against anything, and would therefore skip that important check.

      Just like with any other theft, you're unlikely to ever see your property again, but it sure would be nice to be able to wipe your device in order to prevent it from being accessed by a thief.

  • http://twitter.com/theadb theadb

    I assume they're still keeping free Google Apps users from joining the party? I get an Internal Server Error when I try and hit the site. The app just turns...Lame.

  • http://twitter.com/_vinr vinothr

    Don't we already have this in the grey Google Settings icon?

    • CoreRooted

      No. Just the settings are there. This is basically a UI for what we have through the Play Store website.

    • nxtiak

      No, that Google Settings lets you turn it on/off.
      This app lets you actually track your devices with it.
      Friend loses phone, log in on the app using their gmail and track it, instead of going to computer and website.

  • CBNforum

    Great now that I don't have to go to the website to located my family devices!

    • PhoenixPath

      Because one icon is so much harder than another? (Are there any launchers left that won't let you put an icon on your homescreen for a bookmark?)

  • Tony

    I despise how they use the old tap and drag zooming so it's now backwards from current Google Maps.

    • nxtiak

      Wow, I hadn't noticed Google Maps changed the double tap and drag zooming... Drag up is now zoom out, wtf.

  • nxtiak

    Needs a feature to be able to login as a different gmail account. Useful for if a friend loses phone, you can login with their gmail on your phone with the app and track it.

    • SSDROiD

      Wow. That's genius! Hahaha why aren't you working at Google already?

    • tookieboy

      just signin with their google account on your phone and change to that account in the app. same with any other google apps

  • PhoenixPath

    "The web version works fine on Android devices through the browser, but a native app is still a preferable experience."

    For you, maybe.

    As a long-time flashaholic I can tell you a bookmarked saved in Chrome is a whole heck of a lot easier to deal with than having to download an app every time or keep track of it's backups.

    • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

      I suppose, but I think google's idea is that you just keep the app installed on all of your devices. And for those times where you're not in front of a PC but you have another android device handy you could just go to that

      • PhoenixPath

        It's bookmarked on all of my devices, thanks to Chrome. Only had to do it once, too (No need to install an app multiple times).

        I am sure there are benefits....just not enough to make me want it. :)

        • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

          yeah that's one way to do it. But just FYI you can push installs from the play store as simple ad selecting devices from the drop down. I usually don't install directly from my device if I'm at my PC.

          • PhoenixPath

            I've done that before (I have 4 devices, so installing apps to more than one device is not a new thing for me).

            ...still not as fast as the bookmark. :)

            Do understand though, that these comments are regarding ADM only. The app has no functionality over the web which effectively negates any reason I'd have to install it. Simple as that, really.

            The author of this and other articles on the new app seem to be trying to assert the position that opening a web page or using a bookmark is a "chore" that this app somehow solves. I guess that's really what set me off. It's not a big deal, really...

            Use whatever suits ya. :) I know I will. :p

            (I really wish we could select multiple devices when installing apps through the play store. Come on, Google, give!)

  • UniBroW

    This app is really nice, no doubt about it but someone left a gaping security hole in place here. If I leave my tablet at work or if one of my friends picks it up or it's stolen someone could open this app and erase my phone remotely or lock it or worse yet, locate where i am without having to put a pin in to open the app or an account password to erase a device.

    *edit* or WORSE, locate where my kids...

    To get around this, you have to "hide" your device, but then android device manager is all but useless

    • quick

      How about setting up a pattern lock or pin lock on the device to login... If you want to share the device without giving up your password, doesn't android 4.1+ give user profiles on tablets? You can have a kids, or guest account...

      • UniBroW

        right, i understand a device without a lock screen has obvious security concerns but my point is that a device without a security pin can affect other devices now. I share a "unified" account with my children and have way to many android devices. As i type this, I have four in front of me (yup, I am aware I have issues)

    • MeCampbell30

      You're right. There should be a password like google wallet.

      • UniBroW

        At the very least, there should be a password check when you are attempting to erase a device. Someone could pick up your phone at a bar and wipe out all of your androids and you don't even need to have the app installed. All they need to do is install it and be a bit on the malicious side.

        On the flip side, this is my answer to Googles removal of third party apps updating latitude for me and the fam. Just create a new account, add it to all of the devices and name them and we can keep tabs on each other as needed.

    • Mike Harris

      I think you've got a very good point about your devices suddenly becoming open to harm. This can and should be solved by Google allowing you to set a pin or require a login when using the app.

      However, I find it unlikely that it could be used to track your family, since their devices should either be activated under their own Google account or none at all. I don't have children, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let other people be logged into my account with access to all of my information. I feel like you're opening yourself up to a whole new array of problems if you do that.

      • UniBroW

        I have a shared account that I have on their devices and mine that I use to buy apps and movies/tv. That way they both have access to it without having to buy Adventure Time 2x's, etc

    • Cat Astrophy

      A workaround is to use apps that allow you to assign passwords to any app you wish

      • UniBroW

        Yes, I've thought of that too. I'm not so worried about myself but other people. i already disabled Android device manager from being able to wipe or lock my device ( I use Cerberus anyways) but it's still a rather large oversight by Google.

  • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

    Sigh.... someone really needs to give Google a kick up the arse and get them to fix this longstanding bug.... doesn't work for accounts ending @googlemail.com ARGH!

    • SSDROiD

      I'm not sure that is a bug. I think they actually simply want you to get with the times and register for a new account to get the @gmail.com ender. Bad way to treat early adopters of their email service, no doubt. If I was in charge, I would've just ordered the developers to change all old addresses from googlemail to gmail.

      • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

        Problem is - it wasn't a case of being an early adopter, but some trademark dispute where they offered people in the UK and Germany @googlemail addresses instead of @gmail ( https://support.google.com/mail/answer/159001?hl=en ) while I can migrate from @googlemail to @gmail I gather it causes Android to have a bit of a freak out - and there isn't really any information on what other services might be upset by it - for instance I have 2 factor auth switched on - and I don't know how that will cope. I do know Google advised some services might take up to 48 hours to start working again - but that's very old information.

  • LeaVer

    Good, but... Somekind dangerous. It should be password protected. It allows too much control without confirm your ID first.

  • Rohan J Singh

    hows it different from the inbuilt device manager ?

    • CoreRooted

      There isn't one.

      • Rohan J Singh

        yes there is on my galaxy nexus 4.3.1 .. under device administrators i have android device manager

        • CoreRooted

          But that isn't the web view or the actual device management. It is the setting for the view that this app (and the website) provides.

          • Rohan J Singh

            No, i can view my location of the phone from my laptop and remotely wipe my device

          • Paul Taylor

            Sigh. This app means you don't need to use your laptop, you can use another Android device instead.

  • Malcolm Harris

    is it just me or is this app a serious security threat. i mean if you loose your phone and someonemanages to unlock it , they can locate and lock all your other devices with this app, as the google pw is not needed at any time..and if the app isn't installed, nothing stopps them, installing it. atleast i wasn't asked for my google PW after starting the app for the first time.

    • theycallmeWat?

      Yup they should have added in some additional password security to use this app, or at least to lock/wipe another device from it. Some will say just use a strong lockscreen password to protect your device in the first place... but then my response to that is why bother having the ability to lock/wipe a device using the ADM if a lockscreen password's enough to protect a device. Seems like google should have just added in some additional password security... maybe we'll see in a future update??

  • Mike

    Did they turn off the webpage to manage this to celebrate the release of the app? lol I get a HTTP 500 error

  • PMaranci

    All this talk about remotely wiping your device when it's stolen seems
    kind of odd to me. If someone steals my phone, I don't want to remotely wipe it.

    I want to remotely explode it.

    • Paul Taylor

      Yep, I know what you mean. Although it's obviously good to be able to remove personal data from it, I can't help thinking the thief will be very pleased to find it scrubbed clean and ready for him to use. :-/

  • Simon Belmont

    Okay, I was wondering when Google was going to release an accompanying app for Android Device Manager. Nice to see they finally did.

    Here's my problem, though. Anyone that stole or found your phone or tablet could POTENTIALLY wipe or lock (or locate) any of your other devices on the account. The Android Device Manager app doesn't even need to be INSTALLED before someone steals your phone. All the thief would have to do is install it themselves and, BOOM, access to obliterate your other devices' contents. Google needs to ENFORCE either a PIN or PASSWORD setting when the app is first downloaded and each and every time the app is opened before these abilities are given to the user. I'm sure they'd argue that you should use a pin, password, or pattern lock in the first place to prevent that, but I really think the app, itself, should be locked down. Even an entirely innocent scenario where my kid was playing with my phone and accidentally wiped all of my other devices could be prevented. Come on, Google, fix this.

  • Cyserrex
  • saroj

    how to see or trace more than one android phone in android device manager either in mobile app or in laptop ? My old phone is not showing in my android device manager account... so plz give me detail.. thanx & regards (saroj)

  • ben

    I think Airdroid is much better than Google's android device manager, as said here: http://techzend.com/airdroid-best-android-device-manager-desktop/ it has the functionality to control your Android device via PC wirelessly. and i loves this feature most.

  • M. Shaaban

    Is it any different than the one in Google Settings?