Today’s lesson is brought to you by…
Seems everyone knows about Find My iPhone, the iDevice tracking function implemented in iOS 7 – rather well publicised, that feature is. And effective too. I’ve used it, typically when I’ve got about a million things to do and about half an hour of daylight remaining. sigh Anyway, what it seems not a lot of people know about is how to access the same technology for Android devices.
This was usually the moment when I’d suddenly remember an urgent call I hadn’t made, pat my pockets feeling for an iPhone-shaped lump & immediately get that sinking feeling. Whoops. Lucky I know technology!! Find My iPhone helped me by instantly locating my forgotten device, necessitating a quick cross-suburb sprint back to my previous stop. So that thing works, it even lets you send an on screen message to the phone asking anyone who’s found it to call or email you (from another phone, if they have one. And can be bothered.)
The other day though, the happy-go-lucky owner of the TV company where I work as IT director couldn’t find his new (4 weeks old) Samsung Galaxy S4. And with Gerard, the phone could be anywhere. He answers it if he hears it ringing AND recognises the ringtone as his phone AND doesn’t have another phone stuck to his ear. Any other combination results in a missed call. So our search parameters included: When – last few hours. Or longer. Where – don’t go there, if he knew that it wouldn’t be lost.
Remarkably, Gerard, who whilst not averse to technology, could not be honestly thought of as an early adopter, had tried calling his handset already. Sadly to no avail. He figured then, that his best option was to look under cushions & other things that would muffle an Android ringtone.
“Step aside, I know technology!” said me, “Does your computer have Google on it?” “How the f**k would I know, you set it up.”
So I fire up Chrome and using the Goggles, type in “Find My Android” which takes me here. Which is a very handy map highlighting precisely (well, to 25 metres accurate) where your device is. Now the difference between Apple & Google solutions kicks in. With Apple, the best you can do is play an alert sound and/or post a screen note asking the finder to contact you. If they feel like it. And if it’s already been found.
The Android solution allows you to enter the phone number where you are now, this will be displayed on a big button on screen while the phone rings at full volume, almost guaranteeing the attention of any passers-by. When they push the on screen button, the call will connect to you & now you not only know where your phone is but who’s got it as well. And physical recovery is but a few steps away.
Cyanogenmod actually preceded the Google service with their own, highly accurate implementation. Unfortunately they forgot to include a functionality statement in their OS, so the Cyanogenmod account (which seems to have only the one feature) is an oft-ignored sign up.
With Samsung devices, if you’ve hunted through the firmware settings far enough, you can also apply a Reactivation Lock. That’s tucked away under Security then roll down ‘cos you can’t see it on the first screen. In my case, because I’ve rooted the device (yes, I do want control of the hardware I’ve paid for!) it allows me to enter my email address & password then doesn’t activate. Thanks Samsung, you are a wanker.
So there you go, it’s not only iDevices that can be traced – ‘Droids can too, with a friendlier, more effective recovery solution. Apparantly Windows phones have something similar, however I suspect that most lost Windows phones were left behind quite deliberately.