NEW YORK — Looking for a misplaced or stolen smartphone?
In the year since Google launched its My Account privacy and security hub, more than 1 billion people have used it to safeguard and monitor their data, Google says. Among other things, My Account is a place where you can control the kind of ads Google delivers across the devices that you use and learn what Google does with the information it collects on you.
Now, a new update to the hub lets iOS and Android phone owners find their devices.
The new feature will look familiar to iPhone users and folks who have Google's Android Device Manager. The "find your phone" tool that can give you a chance to recover, and if need be, remotely wipe the contents off a handset that is lost or stolen.
To be sure, similar functionality has been available for some time via the Find My iPhone feature on iOS devices, as well on the aforementioned Android Device Manager on many Android handsets. And many of the find your phone features coming to My Account overlap with what is already available elsewhere: making a missing phone ring, locking the device, or remotely removing its data, for example..
Google says that is what is different is that inside My Account, you can apply such find a lost phone features on iOS and Android phones and tablets (though not missing computers). Google also lets you reach out directly to your carrier from within My Account, to have them for example remotely disable your SIM card and possibly protect you from identity theft by doing so. Someone who has your SIM might be able to use text messages to access your information, send messages on your behalf, or make expensive calls.
As part of the find your phone feature in My Account, you will also be able to reach out for “local help” to plot the nearest lost and found centers on a Google Map.
You'll also soon be able to use your voice to access the feature with a (likely panic stricken) "I lost my phone" command.
Google also aims to make it simpler for you to access the My Account feature, which places various other personal information and account preference tools in a single place — on your PC and/or mobile device.
Coming soon, Google will surface an easy-to-find My Account shortcut whenever you search for your own name in Google (assuming you are already signed into your Google account.) Such a vanity search is one of the most common search requests, according to Guemmy Kim, Google product manager for account controls and settings,
What’s more, if you’re in the Google app on an Android device or iPhone, you can now summon My Account by voice, with the “OK Google, show me my Google account” command. This voice feature kicked in Wednesday for English, with other languages to follow. Google says the use of mobile voice searches has tripled during the past two years.