Google has unveiled the long-anticipated Android Device Manager service, which will roll out to users later this month.
The Android version of Apple's Find My iPhone, Google's Device Manager, is intended to help users find a missing or stolen device.
Dropped your Galaxy S4 between the couch cushions? Just ring your phone at maximum volume to find it, even if you left it in silent mode. Carelessly forgot your Nexus 7 at the restaurant you were lunching in? Use the Device Manager's online map to locate the tablet in real time.
"While losing your phone can be stressful, Android Device Manager can help you keep your data from ending up in the wrong hands," Android product manager Benjamin Poiesz said in a blog post.
In the event that your device cannot be recovered, or has been stolen, you can easily erase all data before someone else gets their hands on your bank records and contacts list.
The new service will be available later this month on the web for devices running Android 2.2 or higher; users must be logged into their Google account for access. An Android app will also be available soon for on-the-go sleuthing, Poiesz promised.
Until the Device Manager rolls out, Android owners can follow some of Google's other safety tips, like setting up a screen lock on your phone or tablet, and protecting your device from suspicious apps downloaded on the web or via a third-party app store.
Apple has been offering the similar Find My iPhone service for years, allowing iOS users to remotely locate, lock, message, and wipe their phone. The service is getting a boost from the upcoming iOS 7, which will require login credentials to unlock the device before wiping it clean.
Other, more costly, options are available, like the new Nokia "Treasure Tag" Lumia-compatible accessory, which straps onto a keychain or other frequently lost devices (perhaps a mobile phone), and uses Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC to follow the lost item on a map.