I remember those days when losing a phone was not a big tragedy, mostly because all you could have on it were phone numbers and maybe a few photos. Usually, among us there was at least one person that took caution by making a backup for the phone numbers – he or she had them written in a notebook. Nowadays phones are more than hardware and have stored on them big parts of our lives. Beside phone numbers and photos they now carry our passwords, internet accounts, and other important personal data. And since most of us don’t even think about having a backup for all the precious information on our phones, the “disaster” is inevitable. Although the iPhone is something we always keep close to us, one moment of distraction is enough for it to be stolen or forgotten in a public place where it most likely will not be found. Fortunately, there are a few apps that can help us minimize the effects of this kind of loss, 10 of which we have here.
1Find My iPhone
Find My iPhone is an app that helps you locate and control your lost iPhone with the use of another iOS device. With Find My iPhone you can remotely delete all the data you have stored on your iPhone, send a message that will appear on the display, play a sound at full volume and, using Lost Mode, you can track and remotely lock the iPhone using a code.
Luckily, all of the latest, more modern iOS devices are already equipped with Find My iPhone app. However, if you don’t have it, you can download it for free from the App Store. To turn on the app you need to go to Settings, choose iCloud and then tap on Find My iPhone which becomes active when the switch is turned green. Since Find My iPhone is a cloud-based service, when your device is gone missing, you’ll need access to a browser to login into your iCloud account using your Apple ID and password.
Once you signed in your iCloud account you should be able to see your iCloud dashboard. Click on the “Find My iPhone” icon, then click on the device you want to locate. If your iPhone is online, you should be able to see its location on the map. If it’s not online, the location will not be displayed, but you can still select to set of a sound at full volume, activate “Lost Mode” and even erase all the data. This, however, should be done only as a last resort, as “Find My iPhone” will not work afterwards. Once the device is online, the actions you previously selected will be activated.
When Lost Mode is activate you will be able to remotely lock your phone with a four-digit passcode so that no one can access your personal information. You will also be able to send a message and a phone number. Who knows, maybe someone will contact you and return your iPhone. The great thing about having Lost Mode active on your phone is that even if your device is turned off, the location services will still be enabled. As long as no one unlocks the phone, it will stay activated.
You need to remember that in order to locate your device with Find My iPhone or iCloud, the device must be turned on and connected to internet. You can also choose to receive an email when the device is back online. Also, make sure to have used all possibilities to retrieve your iPhone before erasing it, because all the content will be gone and tracking it will no longer be possible.
GadgetTrak can also help you in tracking your lost iPhone. It is a $4 universal app that sends you location reports, sends a message to your phone and uses both front and back cameras to snap a photo of the thief and surroundings.
After purchasing and installing the app you need to create an account on the GadgetTrak website and sign in. From this account you will be able to interact with the app. The first thing recommended is to set a password for the GadgetTrak app so that others cannot access the program’s settings. You can also choose to turn on or off the picture-taking option and set how often GPS coordinates are recorded when tracking is on. Since the app can be uninstalled without needing a passcode, you will have to use the Restriction feature to stop a thief from deleting it. To do that you need to go to Settings -> General -> Restrictions. Here you need to tap Enable Restrictions, insert a passcode, and then slide the Deleting Apps switch to Off.
For tracking activation you need to login into your account on the website. This can be done using any browser. Immediately after tracking is turned on, a message will be sent to your phone to lure the thief into initiating a tracking report and launching the app which will take a picture of the perp. The information about the iPhone’s whereabouts, network information and the photos will be emailed to you.
For all this to work, your phone needs to be connected to the internet. GadgetTrak keeps a history of your phone’s locations, however, actions such as erasing data, starting a loud sound or remotely locking the device are not available.
Device Locator is a $3.99 app that uses GPS and tower triangulation to track your lost phone, allows you to sound an alarm on the phone, send a message with sound (audio recording) and take a photo of the surroundings or the person that has your phone. The photo will be sent to you via email. After purchasing and installing the Device Locator app you can launch it by tapping the icon. Then you need to create an account on https://device-locator.com from where you can customize the settings, lock the app, receive location reports and track your phone’s battery life.The application has two forms of reporting that you can enable remotely from your account: normal – you can select the interval at which to receive the location report and emergency – your phone will send a location report every minute. When in normal mode, the app doesn’t take much of the battery life, however, when in emergency mode, the battery life of your phone will be reduced. Another great thing about the Device Locator app might be its ability to send location reports even if it has been closed.
iHound is another good way to keep track of your iPhone and it can be downloaded from the App Store for $3.99 with a three months subscription that can be extended directly from the app. In order to configure the app you need to create an account which can be done for free on the iHound website. When you’ll open the app on your iPhone it will show you a map with a blue dot pinpointing your location. The app itself is pretty simple to use. All the settings are found on the Settings application on your phone. While the app is backgrounded it checks in with the website every 10 minutes and it’s not actually using any battery power. If you lose your phone you can go to the website turn on Full On Tracking and you will receive updates every time your phone changes location. Beside the tracking feature, iHound allows you to remotely lock your phone and erase the data on it, sound an alarm that can only be turned off from your website account and send a push notification.
The coolest feature of the iHound app is GeoFencing which allows you to receive alerts when the tracked phone arrives or leaves a designated area. To set up a GeoFence, you need to log into your iHound account on the website and choose a location in the GeoFencing tab. Once the location is added, you can select the distance between the fence and the location you want and choose what will happen when the fence is crossed. You can receive the notifications in your private email or set the fence to post a Facebook status, Tweet a message and check-in whenever you reach the selected destination. You can also set it to send a push notification which you can use as reminders.
The Lookout app, like all the other apps mentioned above, relies on GPS and Wi-Fi to locate your iDevice. First you need to download it from the App Store, then you need to create a Lookout account using your email address. The app will scan the security and location settings of your iPhone and display the security status of your iPhone. It is a very user friendly app that comes in two versions: free and premium ( $3/month). The app has three main features: it scans your device and notifies you whenever anything suspicious goes on (acts as an antivirus), helps you locate your phone on a map, sound an alarm on it and send a message and allows you to schedule backups for your contacts. Additionally, the app allows you to download the information on your phone and upload it later or even transfer it to another device.
For some, the free version is enough, but there are those of us who save more than phone numbers on our phones. Here comes the premium version which offers some extra features such as Theft Alerts – a location report is sent via email whenever peculiar activity occurs and Back Up Photos which allows you to automatically save your photos.
Mobile Spy app is an invisible service that allows you to monitor the activities on a phone of your choice. Although it can be successfully used to track a lost phone, Mobile Spy is the ideal app for those who have really important information on their phone or for those who want to keep track of their children. Just like the apps mentioned previously, after setup you need to create an account which allows you to configure and control the app. Mobile Spy is a rather expensive app – $49.97/3 months, $69.97/6 months and $99.97/12 months – but it comes with a lot of great features. You can monitor messages, calls, GPS locations, contacts, websites, photos, videos, emails, social networking, you can remotely control your phone, you can even see deleted information from the phone and a lot more. Another great thing about Mobile Spy is that when you purchase the premium version you get access to the Live Control Panel which allows you to monitor your child’s iPhone live from your computer. You can actually see the screen of the device. But the greatest thing is that for an annual Mobile Spy license you will receive the SniperSpy service that allows you to monitor your or your child’s computer (PC or Mac).
FoneHome is a very similar to iHound app that runs in the background of your iPhone and sends location reports to your FoneHome account using GPS and Wi-Fi. There is also a price difference between the two: while iHound is $3.99, FoneHome costs $1.99. From your account on the FoneHome website you can configure the app, remotely send a push message to your lost/stolen iPhone, take a photo using the front or rear camera of your phone, play a loud sound and these are only few of the FoneHome app features. You can also lock your device so that no one can tamper with your data and if there is no way to get your phone back, the service allows you to remotely wipe the information you have on it.
GPSTracker is another free app that besides finding a lost or stolen phone also has tracking features. It uses GPS, Wi-Fi and triangulation to track and record the location of your device. You can monitor the activity of your phone on the followmee.com website after you register. The GPSTracker app allows you to download or publish tracking information if you want to keep your friends up to date, although some things are better kept private. Like iHound, GPSTracker allows you to set up virtual borders with the GeoFencing feature. You will be notified via email when a phone has been taken outside or entered the geofenced area. GPSTracker also allows you to remotely set a password to lock the screen of your iPhone. The coolest feature that we haven’t encountered so far in the above mentioned apps is the SOS Panic Button. The SOS Panic Button allows you to send an email to a specified address and call or VOIP call a number that you set as your emergency number.
Motion Alarm is an app meant to keep away thieves that are less desperate and, why not, people you don’t want playing with your phone. The $1.99 app tracks your iPhone using GPS and Google Maps and sends location reports via email. The sensitivity level can be adjusted and the app can be programed to sound a loud alarm whenever your phone reaches the level of movement you set. The desired outcome is that the perp backs off your phone. Motion Alarm can determine whether the movement of your device is unauthorized or accidental. If you don’t want the thief to know that he/she is being tracked, you can activate the Stealth Mode and the alarm is turned off, but tracking is still on. The app also doesn’t allow your phone to enter sleep mode so that tracking is always active. You can also set the screen to darken so the thief thinks the iPhone is off. The Screen Darkening and Stealth options are highly recommended so the person that steals your device doesn’t know it’s being tracked. Because of Apple restrictions, the Home button cannot be disabled so it can be pressed to stop the app.
10Gotcha! Pro Alarm System
Gotcha Pro is an iPhone Security System that can detect motion even when your iPhone is in real sleep (standby) or locked and allows you to secretly and remotely track your device. It works using GPS tracking and Google maps. The GPS notifications can be sent to you via email or Twitter. Among the features you will find that you can block the silent switch and the volume keys and you can lock the iPhone with a four digit passcode so the thief cannot disarm your burglar alarm. Gotcha! Pro comes with several alarm sounds and a silent mode, but you can also customize an alarm sound. The $3.99 Gotcha! Pro app cannot be disarmed without the passcode you set.
Are there any other apps or programs that helped you find your lost iPhone? Share them with us! And remember, keeping an eye on your iPhone is still easier than losing it.