Android Device Manager adds ‘call owner’ button on the lockscreen should your lost phone end up in someone else’s hands


Android Device Manger lockscreen options DSC06383

Losing your phone is never fun and in the event your precious Android device lands itself in someone else’s hands, 1 of 2 things can happen. That person will either have a new phone to add to their collection, or they’ll be kind enough to return it. But even attempting to return a device to its original owner could prove difficult if the phone is locked up with some sort of password.

Today, Google is taking a lot of the stress out of this entire situation by adding a few handy new feature to Android Device Manager. The web interface (and app) now has a few new options in the “lock” section. Like before, the device can be force locked with a password  (something you’ll want to do to keep your all your private data/media safe) but now you’ll now see the option to add a recovery message to the lockscreen, along with a phone number the person can call to return the device. For the message, it can be anything you like. You can add death threats, or take the more cordial route (we recommend being as polite as possible).

When a phone number is added, the only action the finder can take is to either successfully enter the password, or press the big onscreen call button to call the number you entered into Android Device Manager. Once they call you, you can then politely thank them for finding your phone, and set up a way for them to return it to you. Whatever you do, don’t end up like the guy who showed up at a thief’s house branding a weapon, getting stabbed in the eye, then killing said thief in the scuffle. That would be bad.

You can try out the new feature for yourself by visiting Android Device Manager on the web, or by downloading the app (link provided below).

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

Fresh out the oven: Google apps extracted from the latest Android L update (LPV81C)

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  1. So the thief can call & laugh at you

    1. I think the idea is for when you lose your phone (bathroom, bar, etc) not for when it’s stolen :)

  2. Can’t they just hard reset the phone and all these functions want work anymore?

    1. That’s why they’re including a recovery/hard reset lock on Android L.

  3. That’s very nice of google to give the criminal a way to call you and thank you for your $300 contribution to their wallet.

  4. I remember I found an iPhone while visiting the Arch in St. Louis.
    it was locked so I couldn’t call anyone. But it did say that it was on ATT. I actually drove around for almost an hour looking for an ATT store to bring it to and when I found one it was closed (Google maps originally pointed me to a switching station for ATT).
    I take it in the next day and the employees there seemed confused as to what to do next.
    But it wasn’t my problem once I handed it over. Though I hope it got back to the rightful owner.
    BTW, the battery died on the phone not long after I found it so if the owner called it would have just went to voice mail. I wasn’t about to buy a charger just to be a good seminarian and wait around for a phone call. Not to mention I’m sure if the guy wanted to be a jerk it could have turned into: I caught this guy with my phone.

  5. Hmm I’ve just given this a test and on my Galaxy S4, if the number you specify is in the address book then it will show the usual contact details (i.e. name and photo). Would be better if it didn’t use any of the contact information at all.

  6. I much prefer the constant contact info on my luckscreen.

    Recently I ‘misplaced’ my phone, trying to log into Android Device Manager was impossible in my office computer due to my two step verification. Good thing I had two security back ups.

  7. I simply add my home phone number and “reward for return” to my lockscreen in the owner info, plus I have a small tag on the back of the phone with the same information. You can make it fashionable if you like with custom coloring and lettering. It has worked for me in the past when my phone fell out of my pocket when boarding a plane in SFO. There was a voicemail for me at home when I got there.

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