Like other mobile platforms, Android provides a service that can be used to help you find a lost or stolen smartphone or tablet. But now you can do so even more easily and naturally. If you have a Google Home smart speaker, that is.
This works like similar interfaces for iPhones and other devices, and for Windows 10-based PCs and devices. You can ring your device for five minutes, lock the device and display a message for anyone who finds it, or even remotely erase the device to protect any private data it may contain.
Find My Device is still the way to go if your device is lost out in the world or is suspected stolen. But if you’ve just lost your phone or tablet somewhere in your own home, you can now use Google Home to find it. Even if it’s configured for Do Not Disturb mode.
There are a few things to configure first.
On the device, you must be signed in to your Google account. Location services and some form of connectivity—Wi-Fi or cellular—must be enabled. And you must have turned on the Find My Device service, which you do in Settings > Security & Location > Find My Device in Android 8.0 Oreo.
On Google Home, you must likewise be signed in to your Google account, and if you have configured multiple users on the device, you need to train it to understand your voice for personal results. And the Google Home speaker must be on the same Wi-Fi network as your phone/tablet. (Which it would typically be at home.)
To find your phone, say, “OK Google, find my phone.” (Or similar: Phrases like “ring my phone” will also work.)
The response will vary according to how many devices you have associated with your Google account.
I only have one, a Pixel XL. So on my own Google Home speaker, it replies with, “I can help by making your Pixel XL ring at full volume right away. Would you like me to do that?”
If I answer with “Yes,” the phone begins ringing and Google Home will reply with, “Alright, your phone should be ringing now.”
If I answer with “No,” the Google Home responds with, “Let’s try something else. Should I call the number ending in 1234?”
If I answer with “Yes,” the phone begins ringing as before. But if I respond with “No,” Google Home says, “Sorry, I can’t find any more phone numbers right now.”
In any event, this is a pretty effective way to solve a common problem. After all, we’ve all dropped a phone behind a couch cushion or whatever. And with more and more assistant-based ambient devices proliferating around our homes, this kind of interact becomes very natural.