As just mentioned, all the most recent Android smartphones have a "hidden" application that allows you to locate and control the device remotely. It is about Android Device Management which is offered for free 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 state of factory (for when you lose hope of recovering your cell 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.
To use the Android Device Manager service, you need to 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, so it seems like 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 menu Settings> Accounts> Google of Android and make sure the phone is associated with your Google account. If not, go back to the menu Settings> Accounts, pigia sul pulsating Add account and add your Google account;
- Go to the menu Settings> Location of Android and activate geolocation by moving to ON the lever located at the top right;
- Open the application Google settings (the gear icon with the letter “G” in the center), select the item Safety and activate the functions Locate this device remotely e Allow remote blocking and wipe moving up ON le relative levette.
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.
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 button Make it ring 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 easily locate it); by clicking on the button Block you can lock the device with a security code, in order to prevent strangers from accessing your information, while clicking on Clear you 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 Manager service is also accessible from other Android smartphones and tablets, using the free Android Device Manager 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? You are shown a message telling you No registered device? Try to solve the problem by putting into practice the instructions you find below.
- Open the application Google settings, select the voice Safety and disable the functions Locate this device remotely e Allow remote blocking and wipe.
- Go to the menu Impostazioni> App of Android, select the tab All (top right) and proceed as follows.
- Select the process Google Play Services e pigia prima sul pulsating Manage space and then Erase all data;
- Select the process Google Services Framework e pulsing sul pulsating Clear data;
- Select the process Google Play Store e pulsing sul pulsating Clear data.
- Open the application Google settings, select the voice Safety and activate the functions again Locate this device remotely e Allow remote blocking and wipe.
- Go to the menu Settings> Location of Android, disable geolocation by moving to OFF the lever located at the top right and reactivate it immediately by moving the lever back up 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 menu Settings> Accounts> Google of Android, select yours Gmail indirizzo, pigia sul pulsating (...) collocato in alto a destra and seleziona la voce Remove account give the menu check if you press.
After removing your Google account, turn off your smartphone completely, turn it back on and configure your Google account again by selecting the item Add account from the menu Settings> Accounts of Android. At the end of the operation everything should work as it should (always check that in Google settings the options relating to remote localization and blocking of the device are active).
If you are unable to activate Android Device Manager on your smartphone, or in any case you are looking for an alternative solution for find 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 your 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 the heading 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 button Administrator Rights to grant the application permission to operate the device;
- Connect to this web page from your computer, click on the item Sign In located on the right, log in with the same Google account used on the smartphone to be monitored and click on the button allow.
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 button Controls e pigia his Send location. For the other commands available in the service (in English but easy to understand) select the icons located under the button Controls: Status to activate / deactivate the various connections; Messages to send or receive messages from your mobile phone; Security to lock or format the device and so on.
Please note: in case you want to uninstall Lost Android from your smartphone, go to the menu Settings> Security> Device administrators and remove the check mark from the item related 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.
Finally, let me point you a few more apps for find android phone 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).