Android Device Manager goes live for rogue phones and tablets

Google's Android Device Manager has gone live, offering smartphone users a way to remotely track their phone or tablet, as well as secure it if it's lost or stolen. The free service, unveiled last Friday, supports multiple Android devices per account, showing where they are, when they were last used, and – if factory reset has been enabled on the device itself – even lets them be remotely wiped.

That's a last-resort, however, should your phone be permanently lost or stolen. More common is likely to be users misplacing their phone and wanting to find out which couch cushion it has fallen behind, and for that there's the option to have it ring, at full volume, for up to five minutes.

It's also possible to remotely change the PIN security code on a device, should you believe that it has been compromised. Just as with the Google Play store, different phones and tablets can be selected from a drop down list, complete with details as to when they were added to your Google account.

You'll need to be running the Google Apps Device Policy app, a free download from the Google Play store, in order to register your phone with the service. After that, there'll be periodic check-ins, though you can manually force a location check from the web interface.

It's not the first time we've seen location tracking and remote security features for Android, though it's the first time Google has offered the services. HTC provided similar functionality several years back, as part of its since-retired HTC Sense Online package, while third-party apps like Lookout also include the features.