Android's Find My Device trackers could steal this killer AirTag feature

Closeup of Find Device icon in Android.
(Image credit: Future)

It was a long time coming, but Google finally rolled out its upgraded Find My Device network in April — albeit with some noticeably absent features found on Apple's Find My network. However, it seems Google is already working behind the scenes to add ultra-wideband support on par with Apple's AirTags and AR-based location discovery.

That's according to the good folks at Android Authority, who spotted code references for UWB and AR support in the latest version of the Find My Device app. Strings in the app's code reference "precision finding" for a UWB adapter and mention additional "libraries" regarding the app supporting UWB. 

While that doesn't guarantee that Google plans on bringing it to its Find My Device network, it is a promising sign. Though many of the best Android phones support UWB, Google's Find My Device network launched without it. This short-range wireless communication protocol works like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to let devices talk to each other, with the advantage that UWB connections pack a stronger connection with lower power consumption. That makes it perfectly suited to power features like Apple AirTags' Precision Finding, as it's able to give precise directions to your lost device down to a few feet from its location. 

Android Authority also spotted code mentions of AR (augmented reality) features via the ARCore software development kit. Working in tandem with UWB support, this could layer directions and icons over a user's camera feed while in the Find My Device app to guide them to their lost device — similar to the Galaxy SmartTag 2's capabilities. 

More interesting still, AR-based directions might not be exclusive to UWB-supported devices. The outlet noted that the strings found in the code don't reference the two methods as working exclusively together. As it stands, the Galaxy SmartTag 2 only works if you have one of the best Samsung phones with UWB tech. If Google's AR-based UI isn't limited to UWB trackers and devices, that could give it a serious leg up on the competition, putting its network ahead of both Samsung and Apple. 

Of course, all of this remains speculation for now. Neither UWB support nor the AR-based location UI are currently live within the Find My Device app, and there's no telling when Google will roll them out. But Google seems committed to bringing some important features to its revamped network, as we saw earlier this week with its connection to Family Link, Google's parental control software. 

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Alyse Stanley
News Editor

Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment. Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats.  She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.