If you become one of the millions of victims of phone theft this year, a simple Google search for “I lost my phone” will automatically locate your device and even allow you to send a message to the thief.
For the one-year anniversary of Google’s “My Account” feature, which gives users more control over privacy and personal data, the company added today increased controls over lost or stolen Android devices (it doesn’t work if you have an iPhone, sorry), including: the ability to turn off the ringer on full volume remotely, lock the device and change the password, reset the lock screen to display a message, and remotely erase all the data off the device.
“When you entrust your data to Google, you should expect powerful security and privacy controls,” Guemmy Kim, product manager of account controls and settings, wrote in a blog post.
The ability to write a message is meant to display contact info on the lock screen in the event the device is simply misplaced and a good Samaritan is trying to return the phone to its rightful owner. But if it turns out that person is a malicious phone thief you may want to give them a piece of your mind instead.
Google searching “I lost my phone” worked seamlessly when I tested it and users can also access the feature through the My Account page or by voice searching “show me my Google account.” Soon, you’ll be able to simply voice search your name.
According to Consumer Reports National Research Center, 2.1 million phones were stolen from American consumers in 2014 and another 3.1 million were lost. This should certainly help those disaffected locate their device.