My daughter called me as soon as she arrived at work with the fatal words "my phone is gone". She thought she might have lost it that morning while exiting the train. Not to worry - we installed the Find My iPhone App on our phones which would find the location of the phone for us. I've used it many times before to check on her whereabouts, so I am thinking this will be easy.
I tap on the app on my phone, enter my password and find that her phone is offline! That is the catch, your phone has to be on. Since she left her phone on, we are thinking it is either in the hands of someone intent on keeping the phone or hopefully a railroad employee found the phone and shut it off to preserve the battery while it sits in the lost and found.
In desperation, still using the app, I tap on the device name, and find that I can be notified when the phone is connected to the Internet, and I can also create a message indicating that the phone is lost or stolen as well as provide a phone number to call if found. This message will pop up on the missing phone when the phone is turned on and best of all, the message works even if you have a passcode on your phone. I also have options to lock the phone, erase the contents of the phone, or play a locater sound (even if the phone is set on silent).
This story has a happy ending. That evening I received a call from the person who found the phone. They did shut off the phone to conserve the battery, and when they turned on the phone my message popped up. Even better, I got a message on my phone when the missing phone was turned on complete with a map indicating the location of the phone. Fortunately the person who found the phone lived within a few miles and I retrieved the phone within minutes of receiving the call. Since the phone did have a passcode, I don't think we would have recovered it if not for the Find My iPhone app.
The Find My iPhone app will allow you to find any IOS device including any iPod touch, iPad, or Mac that you set up on your iCloud account. You can use any IOS device to find your missing device, you just sign in to the app with your Apple ID and password.
Other smartphone platforms have their own free apps you can download to locate a lost or stolen phone: Where's My Droid for Android devices, Find My Phone for Windows devices, and Protect for BlackBerry devices.
If you have a smartphone, it would be wise to install and practice using one of these free apps just in case you need it someday. If you give or receive a smartphone this year for the holidays, please remember to install or recommend installing one of these free apps.
If you should need to employ one of these apps someday, I hope your story ends happily too, although I think my daughter would have been okay if she received a new iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S3 in her Christmas stocking this year!
Do you have your own lost phone story? I'd love to hear it!