In the habit of misplacing your Android smartphone and tablet? Google has just the thing for you: Android Device Manager. As promised last week, the service is rolling out now, allowing device owners to find their missing hardware via GPS, or use a simple audible "ring" if its planted somewhere within hearing distance.
For now, Android devices can be managed here. It's a web-based app that features a card in the left-hand corner of a map listing all the Android devices registered with the user's account. Only one device is shown at a time – merely click on the down arrow to choose another device. Each one can also be renamed and its location refreshed. There's even a "Ring" button for forcing the device to ring at full volume for 5 minutes, even tablets.
To enable Erase Device, users must enable factory reset by going into the Google Settings app on the device, tap Android Device Manager, and make sure "Allow remote factory reset" is checked. This allows the device owner to reset their smartphone and/or tablet to factory defaults in case the device is stolen or cannot be located.
As of this article, only one out of three Android devices in my possession supports Android Device Manager: the Nexus 10 – several reports claim that it's only rolling out to smartphones which is obviously not the case. Not only could I locate the tablet, but force the device to emit a ringing sound at full volume. The latter had an unusual delay which may be ironed out later on down the road.
Strangely enough, the Nexus 7 and the Motorola DROID RAZR HD have yet to receive the service. Presumably Google is rolling out updates to the green Google Settings app itself, as Android Device Manager is listed in the Nexus 10's app, but not in the other two devices' apps. A check with two additional Android smartphones in the office, one of which is the Motorola DROID 4, didn't have Android Device Manager either.
"Android Device Manager doesn’t collect a location history or do background location reporting," the company states. "Your device’s approximate location is requested when you first sign in, and this location data is deleted when you sign out of the device manager. If the device is turned off or offline, Google is unable to report its location."
Android Device Manager is compatible with devices running Android 2.2 or above. Apparently it's rolling out slowly, so just keep track of the Google Settings app installed on your Android device. Meanwhile, Google is reportedly working on an actual app for managing devices outside the web browser. When that hits Google Play is unknown at this point.
UPDATE: The Nexus 7 now supports Android Device Manager. Still waiting on the other devices...