According to what 9to5Google calls an “APK Insight”, Google may be looking to leverage their 3 billion Android devices to create a similar network as Apple’s Find My Network. Let’s back up a bit and talk about what exactly an “APK Insight” is.
APK’s are simply decompiled Android files, which in this case come from the latest beta version of Google Play Services. So like a hardware teardown but for OS. Through this teardown, 9to5Google was able to see various lines of code (in form of a toggle) within that hint at a possible future feature named “Spot” that leverages your Android phone to locate other devices. Because this is merely 9to5Google’s interpretation of these APK’s, whether they mean what they think they mean remains unclear. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features. With that in mind, read on.
As you may already know, today’s Find My Device requires an internet connection where a phone must be connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data networks in order to be found. While that works in most cases, Apple’s Find My capability takes it a step further by allowing the broadcast of Bluetooth signals even when devices are offline. Now, Google seems to be emulating that functionality through an underlying API for the Find My Device network named “Spot.”
We enabled with Play services 21.24.13 a “Find My Device network” setting to turn this feature on/off. Note how it’s distinct from the main Find My Device switch. As such, you can exclude your phone from being used as a relay.– 9to5Google
Because all of this comes from a beta insight and its limited info, it’s unclear whether the Find My Device network will be able to find things other than phones, like Apple’s Find My network or Samsung’s Galaxy Find network are capable of doing. Keep in mind that all of this might never see the light of day. In case it does; however, now we know.
With Android 12 beta out and full release around September/October, this feature would be a great addition to an already much improved Android.