Google released the second generation of its Pixel Buds earlier this year in the US. Despite being a significant step forward from the first gen, there were still numerous issues that make them hard to recommend. Now they're getting a little better thanks to new features to help find misplaced earbuds — and they aren't the only Fast Pair-enabled accessories showing up in the Find My Device app.
Every phone, tablet, smartwatch, TV, and other Android-powered device has a model name assigned to it by the manufacturer. The name shows up in a few different places, including the desktop Play Store website, Google Assistant, and Google's Find My Device tool. Sometimes the model name is easily recognizable (e.g. "Google Pixel 3" or "Nokia 7.2"), but in other cases, it can be an incomprehensible string of characters and numbers.
Google's Find My Device service is invaluable when you lose your phone while you're out and about, but it's also great if your handset disappears in the vast void that is your couch, bed, or hallway. Just hit up Google Assistant on one of your smart home speakers or displays and ask it to "Find my device." However, for people who juggle more than two phones at once (like us here at Android Police), this can quickly turn into a frustrating experience, as Google would only help you find the two most recently used phones. That has changed — the Assistant will now give you a selection of up to nine phones at a time.
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When setting up a phone for someone who's not especially tech-savvy (or simply doesn't care to learn about their phone), Android offers a nice amount of flexibility in terms of what you do or don't have to do. But just because the flexibility is there doesn't mean there aren't a few highly advisable, if technically totally optional, steps you can take to make that phone (and potentially the person using it) a lot less annoying. Here are 10 things we think will make any beginner's experience on an Android smartphone less frustrating, both for them and the person tasked with setting them up.
Google is updating its Fast Pair protocol with new accommodations for true wireless earbuds. Some of these changes were first tipped back at Google I/O 2019, but with today's launch of the second-generation Pixel Buds, it would probably be the most apt time to introduce some features tailored specifically towards that type of Bluetooth accessory.
If your Android phone is lost or stolen, the platform's built-in Find My Device functionality can help track down, lock, or remotely wipe it, though a change in Android 10 has led to some confusion among our readers. Find My Device has a setting in "Device admin apps," which grants it extra privileges it claims are required to remotely wipe and lock devices, and it appears to be disabled by default on many Android 10 devices, including the Pixel 4. Don't worry, though, you don't need to turn it back on. It turns out, Find My Device doesn't need it to work on Android 10.
Google's streamlined Bluetooth pairing protocol for Android devices, Fast Pair, is about to support way more devices — not just Chromebooks, as previously promised, but more headphones, earbuds, speakers, and even smartwatches — and get a lot more useful for people who have lost a wireless earbud around the house. The company is also preparing a UI revamp for Bluetooth settings in Android Q.
Find My Device is a lifesaver feature for the absentminded among us. Even if you've just left your phone in the couch cushions, you can use the feature to ring it. Now, the service has picked up a new feature that can help in more dire circumstances: it can now show where your phone is on an indoor map of some large buildings, like malls and airports.
Find My Device doesn't get a lot of updates these days, and it probably doesn't need much more than it already does. However, the latest update does add a potentially valuable new feature that could make it easier to report your lost or stolen phone. You can now get the IMEI number for the device without digging up the original box or paperwork, and without having to make a point of recording the number elsewhere.
Google's Find My Device service offers an invaluable tool for tracking down a missing phone or tablet, combining GPS positioning with an audible alert to let you quickly locate your missing hardware. And with tools to remotely lock or erase your device, it also helps ensure your data's safe until you get your hands back on your gear. But for as useful as it can be, you still need access to some device in order to perform the search, and especially if you keep your phone and laptop in the same bag, that can be a problem. Fortunately, it's also one that Google Home is ready to solve.