How to track a lost smartphone
Losing your phone sucks. And no matter how much you take care of it, sometimes it just happens. It could be as simple as misplacing it, or it could be worse like someone stealing it. What you can do though, is to set a safety net in case it happens. If you have your smartphone right now, you should activate some of its tracking features. Here’s how to do it.
Google is your friend.
This applies to both Android and iOS. I’m sure most, if not all, have a Gmail account. Those of you who do may or may not be taking full advantage of it. Having a Gmail account also allows you to save your phone contacts to it.
Download “Find My Device” on Google Play
Android devices offer a slew of device tracking options, but what I love about it is how easy it is to set up. All you have to do is download the app, sign in with your Gmail, and allow the app to access its location.
Install “Find My Device” in another device and sign-in with the registered Gmail account to the missing device.
Now, if there isn’t another device with the app installed…
You can just google “Find My Device” on any web browser. The first link should lead you to the app’s web interface. If your browser of choice is Chrome and the Gmail you use for your device is the same one that’s logged in, you can type “Find My Device” and get a web interface straight-off the search engine.
Like I said earlier, Google’s “Find My Device” isn’t the only app out there for Android. You can check out “Prey Anti-Theft” for free. What sets it apart from “Find My Device” is its ability to access your lost device’s cameras.
Setup “Find My iPhone” app
It’s surprising how some iPhone users get the “Find My iPhone” app pre-installed and forget to register their device to the app. For those of you who don’t know to set it up, here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Go to Settings > Privacy, then turn on Location Services.
- Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Find My iPhone.
- Turn on Find My iPhone.
- To have your device send its last location before the battery runs out, turn on Send Last Location. A family member can help you locate your missing device if you set up location sharing with them before your device is lost.
Install “Find My iPhone” in another iOS device and log-in to the Apple ID registered to the missing device.
If you don’t have another Apple device near you, you can go to iCloud’s website on any device and practically do the same thing.
It’s worth mentioning for Apple users that on iOS 13, you will be receiving the updated “Find My iPhone” app, dubbed “Find My.” It’s basically the Find My Friends and Find My iPhone app in one. The key feature here that separates this app from the previous one is the ability to locate your missing device without a connection. This works even when your lost device is offline but close to another device. It practically connects one device to another over Bluetooth and sends its location.
The features you get for both “Find My iPhone” and “Find My Device” are mostly the same. Aside from obviously locating your phone, you can have it alarm like a panic button for cars, wipe your data, and shut the device off. The latter options are probably for when you no longer have any means of retrieving your device. We highly recommend using that alarm wisely when you’re tracking your lost phone.
Now you may be thinking, “can’t thieves just turn it off from the start?”. As long as these tracking apps and your phone are installed and used correctly, you will be able to locate it again the moment the device is turned back on. If the phone can still transmit or receive a cellular, WiFi, or GPS signal, the feature will still work properly.
Also, please make sure that your devices’ location is turned ON, especially when you’re in a place where there’s a chance you might lose your phone. Make sure your tracking app has permission to use the device’s location.
That’s a wrap, everyone. I hope you learned something new today, and I hope none of you ever have to go through this!
This piece was originally written by Miguel Ty. Additional inputs and editing by Alyza Angeles.