It's only taken four years to catch up, but Google has finally launched an Android equivalent to Apple's ‘Find my Phone' app in order to help consumers track down missing or stolen handsets and tablets.
Going by the slightly less catchy "Android Device Manager Service" it offers much of the same functionality that iPhone, iPad and even Mac notebook users have been taking for granted since 2009.
Scheduled to officially roll out "later this month" the service will allow users to call their phone and make it ring at maximum volume (even if it is in silent mode) in case it has been misplaced around the home, or view its location in real time on a map if it was left at a restaurant or somewhere else further afield. And, if it's missing because it was stolen, the owner can quickly and securely remote wipe all information on it.
But best of all, the service is compatible with Android devices running version 2.2 (Froyo) or higher of the operating system, meaning that, according to Google's own latest usage figures, 98.7 % of all active Android devices will be supported. It will come with a supporting app for managing multiple devices.
Earlier this year, Sony launched its own version of the service specifically for its Android smartphone customers and the service is currently rolling out territory by territory after successful trials in Northern Europe.
Meanwhile during its World Wide Developers Conference in June, Apple revealed that it was beefing up the performance of its Find My Phone service by enabling device owners to not only permanently erase the content of stolen iDevices but also disable them so that thieves would not be able to reset, reprogram or resell them. The new features, which will be included in the next update to its mobile operating system iO7, will come on line in September and have the potential to make iPhones and iPads' black market resell value worthless as the devices will forever display a message on their homescreen that the phone is stolen and has therefore been wiped.