Google Location Unavailable using Device Manager
Android device manager is a built-in location tracker from Google. This is not the same as the Location History tracking that I wrote about previously, although both are part of Google’s android OS.
Lets talk about some of the problems you might see with Device Manager. I’m writing this first draft on March 14, 2015. When I go to device manager (https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager?u=1), Google is reporting that my phone was “Last Online March 8, 2015”. What does “last online” really mean? “Last Online” of what? [The error is part of Google “Location Unavailable” using Device Manager].
Last online Gmail? No. I checked my gmail account on my phone for new mail. The “last online” date did not change, so I can assume that it isn’t tied to gmail. It has reported my location before so what happened?
I went into google settings->security and verified that “remotely locate this device” is still checked. I unchecked and rechecked “allow remote local and erase”.
“Android Device Manager won’t work for devices that are powered off.” duh. That makes sense. It also doesn’t work when there is no internet, wifi, data or whatever. Neither of those issues apply to me — my phone is on and has internet connection.
Requirements for using Android Device Manager: Here is what I have found: “The only requirement is that your device is connected to your Google account, turned on and connected to the internet.”.
Connected to my Google account? When I set the phone up, I “sync’ed” it to my google account …. but how do I know if I am “connected” to my google account right now? I clicked on “accounts” in settings and looked at my google account. “Last synced Sat, March 14, 2015 09:57”. That was only a few minutes ago, so I know that my phone is talking to google. So why am I not getting device manager to work correctly?
“Google apps location setting” in the same section … “Let google apps access your location” … is set to yes or “on”. Even “Let apps that have asked your permission to use your location information” setting is set to on (which would be for non-google apps).
But my “last online” date hasn’t changed. It is still showing a few days ago. So I went to the play store and had it update one of my apps; I also check my account, and reviewed previous purchases to show that I was accessing the account. But no luck — “last online” date still five days ago.
What about “location reporting” and “location history”? These should have NOTHING to do with device manager, right?
Enable location reporting: A global account setting, this keeps a track of where you have been, not just where you are now. When Location Reporting is enabled Google will then use the device to update it’s own database of Wi-Fi locations. For example it will turn your phone on and obtain a GPS position then see what Wi-Fi points are in that area to update it’s own database, as well as periodically updating your own location.
GOOGLE: Location Reporting will only use cell ID or Wi-Fi location detection depending on your device. [DOES NOT USE GPS.]
Enable Location History: If enabled, it lets Google store a record of all your location data from all your devices over time. You can then see a map showing where your phone has been over time (days, weeks months).
GOOGLE: It also will not turn off Location Reporting, GPS, or Wi-Fi location services for your device. [MEANING it will not “cycle” these services on and off as needed. These will stay ON as long as location history is activated.]
Google also says make sure your devices aren’t hidden (mine is not hidden):
If you hide a device on Google Play, the device won’t appear in Android Device Manager. You can hide or show devices on Google Play by going to play.google.com/settings and selecting a device in the Visibility column.
I keep searching for “what does last online mean in google device manager?” and I can’t find an answer.
From device manager, I sent a “ring request” to my phone. Within 30 seconds, my phone began to ring. So I have confirmed that this works – yet my “last online” date has not changed.
Then I start checking my kids phones, first device manager (https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager?u=1), then android location history (https://maps.google.com/locationhistory/b/0?redirect=ulfe).
CHILD NUMBER 1: (confirmed on wifi)
Device Manager: “Location unavailable, Last online March 13, 2015” (yesterday). Yet, she was just online a few minutes ago, connected to wifi, sending me messages over the internet.
Location History: “You have no location history for March 14, 2015”. Yet I can go back a few days and see her location history.
CHILD NUMBER 2: (no connection!)
Device Manager: Found her, within 256 meters! Not exactly a close find, but at least it sees the phone.
Location History: Shows an accurate location within the past five minutes.
CHILD NUMBER 3: (confirmed on wifi)
Device Manager: “Location unavailable”
Location History: “You have no location history for March 14, 2015”
But today, I decided to play with the settings of the Samsung S4. I have power saving location method on, and the GPS widget OFF. Both Location History and Android device manager (of Google) FOUND MY PHONE.
Device Manager pushed a message to the phone that said Android Device Manager found the phone. That message was in the pull-down message center.
In the Samsung S4, there are two settings: GPS and a separate LOCATIONS. Not all phones have this dual setting. Because Locations is on, the phone is using the wifi and cellular tower to report my location even with GPS off. That is what I wanted, but I don’t believe how well it will work.