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How to Find Your Gadgets

Maybe you left it at your friend’s digs at pre-drinks? Perhaps it’s somewherein your laundry bag at res. Or possibly lost forever.

Whatever happened, your favourite gadget is gone, leaving you with the question of what to do next. Luckily, several apps have been developed for the sole purpose of finding lost cell phones and gadgets. You no longer have to hope that someone will find yours for you. You can now proactively search for yours yourself. If you’ve planned ahead, that is…

Losing  gadgets can be a costly & traumatic experience

Android users

Google recently updated its Android operating system to include a new feature called Android Device Manager, to help Android smartphone owners find their lost or stolen smartphones and tablets. Android Device Manager is activated through the Google Settings. The locator feature is enabled by default, and there are also an opt-in features including allowing you to remotely lock your device or erase the data. To use the locator feature, visit Android Device Manager online and log in with your Google account. You will get a prompt asking for permission to allow Android Device Manager to use location data. Click on the “Accept” button to continue.

devman

With Android Device Manager, you can locate your phone on a map, along with the place it was last used; ring your device; and force a factory rest, which will erase all your data, including apps, photos, music and settings. Once your device has been wiped, you will no longer be able to access it through Android Device Manager, so this is truly a last resort to protect confidential data. In typical Android fashion, there are a host of third-party apps that can do the same job for free or a premium.

Plan B would be an example. It’s biggest advantage over many of the others is the ability to activate it after the cell phone has gone missing thanks to Google Play Store’s over-the-air installation feature. Simply install the app from the Play Store web page, and the app will be instantly pushed to your device. The app will then automatically start running and send its current location to your Gmail address. You can borrow a friend’s phone and text the word “locate” to your phone number to find your cellphone.

Lookout Mobile Security is another with new and innovative features such as Signal Flare which sends your phones location when the battery become critically low, and can also take a picture via the front-facing camera if someone fails your lockscreen more than twice, Giving you an image to submit to authorities.

iOS users

iphoneFind My iPhone is a custom iPhone locator app, Apple’s mobile operating system. Enabling Find My iPhone is as easy as going to Settings > iCloud > Enable Find My iPhone. From then, you can sign in to iCloud from any web-enabled device to find your iPhone. Find My iPhone can show you where your missing iPhone was last seen on a map or play a sound to help you locate your phone if it is nearby. Find My iPhone includes Lost Mode, which can immediately lock your phone and display a contact number on the home screen of your phone. This enables anyone who finds the phone to call you directly from your locked screen without accessing any other data. While in Lost Mode, the device will also keep track of where it’s been and report back to you anytime you check in with the Find My iPhone app. Disabling Find My iPhone or erasing your device requires your Apple ID and password and can also continue to display the “Please call me to return my iPhone” message even an attempt to wipe the phone. Find My iPhone and Lost Mode will only work if the phone is turned on and connected to a cellular or Wi-Fi network.

Windows Phone users

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 offers a very similar service to Android Device Manager called Find My Phone. Just log in to Windows Phone using your Microsoft ID and password and you will have the option to locate your phone, ring it, or erase all the data.

Laptops

For laptops, there exists Prey a free tool which, when activated, creates a detailed report about the state and location of your laptop, which you can access over the web. Prey provides a handy Google map showing your laptop’s location, as well as a pair of images. One is a screen mirror of whatever is going on at the time giving you a decent chance of finding your laptop’s new owner logging into a social networking site, or giving away their email address. The second is a photo captured from your laptop’s webcam. Just like Android’s Lookout Security App, this gives you a decent chance of getting a clear shot of the thief’s face, which you can supply to the police.

PreyIt’s all controlled by a web-based control panel, from which you can mark your device as missing, sound an alarm or lock it remotely. You can also display a customisable message, either warning whoever has your machine that it’s being tracked, or possibly – if you’re in a forgiving mood – offering a reward. Prey does not offer the ability to remotely wipe your documents, although Prey offers the next best thing by supplying a secure mode, which disables access to your email and removes your machine’s saved passwords and browser cookies, preventing access to websites containing personal data. A free Prey account allows you to track three machines at once. Once you designate a machine as stolen, it will file periodic reports of its location, along with captured images. Once ten reports have been generated, the oldest is deleted to make way for new entries.

Losing gadget can be a terrifying and costly affair, and these apps are not a substitute for good situational awareness and being careful.  Hopefully now, however, you can be better prepared in case your gadget goes missing.

To install and use these apps & services, follow the following external links:

Android Device Manager
Plan B
Lookout Mobile Security
Find My iPhone/iPad
Find My Phone
Prey

All images from Flikr

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