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Android’s Find My Device Network

TL;DR: Google’s rollout of Android’s Find My Device network highlights the underuse of UWB technology, despite its potential for precise device interaction.

UWB Technology Overview

This week saw Google commence the long-awaited rollout of the Android Find My Device network. Despite its activation, this move puts the spotlight on a notable absence: the use of UWB technology in Android devices. UWB, or ultra wide-band, is essential for high-speed, short-range communication and is excellent for precision in determining proximity between devices. It serves functions like digital car keys and interactive device taps but demands extra hardware, which limits its use.

Current Use and Challenges

Google’s approach to UWB has been minimal. Even in devices like the Pixel 8 Pro, which is equipped for UWB, the technology is underused. Previous models such as the Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro, as well as the Pixel Fold, have included this capability with little exploitation, except for in Quick Share features.

The new Find My Device network, interestingly, does not integrate UWB. This contrasts with Apple’s AirTags, which have utilized UWB from the outset to enhance user experience in locating lost items. This absence raises questions about future support and integration of UWB within Google’s ecosystem.

Future Prospects

There is a glimmer of hope. Google confirms that the forthcoming Pixel Tablet will integrate ‘Tap to Cast’ features with UWB-compatible phones. The Pixel Watch 3 is also expected to leverage UWB to improve device interactions. These are positive steps toward realizing the potential of UWB technology in practical applications.

Industry Comparison

Google is not alone in its slow adoption of UWB. Samsung, back in 2020, predicted a significant rise in UWB use. However, it has not expanded beyond its highest-end phones and the Galaxy SmartTag 2, which is incompatible with the broader Android Find My Device network.

What does the future hold for UWB on Android? It remains hopeful that UWB trackers will eventually emerge. For now, the key desire is for Google to begin leveraging this promising technology, which has already seen diverse applications by competitors like Apple, yet remains largely ignored by Google.


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