Google adds indoor positioning to Android’s Find My Device


If you’ve ever lost your Android phone, it’s usually a help to use Google’s “Find My Device” service to see the phone’s last known position on a map. As Google Maps get better and better, it makes sense to keep Find My Device up to date with the latest in mapping technology. With the latest update, Google is adding indoor mapping support to its lost device service.

While Google Maps has most of the great outdoors pretty well mapped, indoor mapping is the next great frontier. For indoor mapping, someone has to upload a floor plan to Google Maps and then set up some kind of indoor positioning system. Outdoor Google Maps can be powered by satellite imaging and photos from Street View cars, but there’s no such shortcut for indoor maps, which require each individual building owner to enter data. Today you’ll find indoor maps mostly for places like Airports, malls, stadiums, and other large businesses (here is an example). If you lose your device in one of these places and the indoor positioning system actually works, you’ll now be able to get a pinpoint location in Find My Device.

This might actually work in your house someday, too. Google added 802.11mc support—AKA Wi-Fi Round Trip Time (RTT)—to Android 9 Pie, which allows Android devices to natively support precise indoor positioning and even indoor navigation. You’ll need a constellation of Wi-Fi RTT-compatible routers for indoor positioning to actually work, and no consumer routers actually support it yet. Google has promised Wi-Fi RTT support will come to the Google Wi-Fi mesh router before the end of the year, though.

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