Today, Google began rolling out a new service called Android Device Manager. It gives users a set of limited, albeit useful, tools in case they misplace their Android smartphone or, worse yet, find that a bandit has wrongly appropriated it from them. For many reasons, it’s a good move.
Currently, the service allows you to (1) pinpoint your Android device(s) on a map; (2) send a command to ring out your device if you’ve misplaced it in your house and have turned up all your couch cushions to no avail; and (3) remotely wipe all data on the phone in order to safeguard important data. I can’t help but think this is only the tip of the iceberg, and Google probably has more in store for us as they continue to develop and refine this service. It’s worth mentioning that it has been silently installing itself on Android devices over the past several weeks via Google Play Services.
It’s hard to argue that this isn’t a good move by Google. We’ve all moved tons of sensitive, personal information onto our smartphones, and it makes sense to give users the ability to wipe that data if it falls into the wrong hands, especially when the device it’s stored on is already monitored, tracked, and analyzed six and a half dozen ways by more third parties I can count. Heck, if someone else can monitor my phone, I should be able to as well!
It makes even more sense for Google to throw its might behind this effort. There is a perception out there that Android is from Venus and security from Mars, so anything that bolsters Android’s standing among the security bigwigs is a good thing. Also, while there’s no shortage of third party apps that offer these (and tons more) services, users must still affirmatively seek out those apps out and download them before they are protected, which, obviously not everyone is going to do. However, if Google distributes this through Google Play Services, everyone gets it. It’s like a firewall on your home internet connection; more people are going to use one if it comes enabled by default on a router or operating system than if you have to download one and enable it. Finally, with Google’s reputation supporting this effort, I think more people are likely to feel that this service will “just work.”
I’m glad to see Google doing this, and look forward to seeing what additional tools they bake in with future updates.