All android mobiles, if they were connected to each other, would form an impressive network all over the world. Obviously that cannot happen for several reasons related to privacy, but from a technological point of view it does not represent much of a problem.
One of the solutions they can offer is find stolen or lost mobiles. Each mobile has a unique internal identifier, so that if a stolen mobile passes near another mobile, it could be identified and located without much problem.
That’s the idea behind Apple AirTags, and other devices like Tiles, which have been on the market for years. AirTags have something different, they use iPhones around the world to treat them as a collaborative network, and it seems that Google is working on the issue as well.
They comment on it and XDA, where they indicate that there are text strings in the new versions of Google Play Services that make it clear that they are working on a network designed to “Find Devices”.
The idea can be summed up in one sentence: other people’s phones may help you find yours.
The current system to find an android mobile is the one that appears in this video:
As you can see, the lost mobile has to be connected to the Internet, and the search is carried out by Google based on the last position detected. With the new function it would be possible to find mobiles even if they are disconnected from the Internet, using Bluetooth, surely, as Samsung does with its SmartThings Find. Logically, if the lost mobile is turned off or does not have Bluetooth active, it could not be found in this way.
From what is known by analyzing the code, any mobile phone could find nearby devices, but there are no details that indicate how that search would be activated. If the person who has lost it activates the system, would all the mobiles in the world be activated in search mode? Will they always be activated and attentive to see what mobiles are nearby? It seems something similar to what COVID tracking apps do, where personal information is not disclosed, only the unique ID of the mobile.
Even so, in XDA they comment that it will be an option that the user can activate or deactivate, so that if we do not want our mobile to help others, we can specify it.
We will await the official news from Google to give more details.