Let it do the police work for you.
I…forget things. And by things, I mean actual ‘things’. I get so engrossed in a distraction that my mind deploys a ‘keep & forget’ cell that makes me completely forget about the item and the place where I choose to temporarily relief my hand from. As a child, I have lost countless items – especially gadgets to my father’s misfortune – in malls, supermarkets and while multitasking between parents’ constant nagging on the phone and popping heads of in Counter Strike in a shoddy net café.
After losing a series of personal belongings, I realized that (I am a little slow as well….but…that’s another story), that I should really be keeping track of my things because by the time I comprehend that I am missing something, it would have already popped up on Tbreak Souq. Inspired by spy novels and movies, I wished for a device or something that I could slap onto my things that would help me track and locate them in case if I forgot them again, but alas, it turned out I would have to be in the military to get some of those and I was too fat for that. But when I purchased my iPhone 4, I immediately logged into the App Store to see if there was an app that could utilize the built-in GPS to function the way I always wanted my gadgets to. And there was, and it’s called FoneHome: Phone Tracker which helps you keep track of your device by sending GPS updates to a web interface that shows the location on Google Maps.
I half-expected it to work as there are many such apps that scam you out of your money and ‘FoneHome’ doesn’t exactly sound very professional – but it does work. I have been using it for a couple of months now and it has worked every time I tried. While the app itself is basic, it only has a Google Map view and a few options to change update intervals, the main functionalities of it lies in its web interface.
It’s a simple procedure to get going: once you download the app, you will be prompted to register. The same login information can used on the official website whereupon you will be taken to your account area. If you have got multiple iPhone 4s, you can file them under a single account as well. Upon selecting the mobile you want to track, you will be taken to another area with a large Google Map embed with the phone’s last position marked. This is your spy room, and I wish FoneHome had decorated it like one. You can do a number of things from here, the most important being activating the ‘Lost Mode’. This will cause the device to send per-min GPS update to the web interface but will drain the battery a whole lot quicker. This is only recommended to quickly find out where your device could be and then should be shut off immediately alas the battery dies down.
Another very important feature is the ability to capture pictures from either the front or the rear camera. This is done by sending a push notification to your device, and when it is viewed it will automatically click a picture and upload it on the web interface. The only drawback to this is that the push notification need to be viewed to click a picture, so unless the phone is actually stolen, it’s pretty useless. Also, you need an active internet connection.
Along with the push notification you can also remotely choose to activate a ‘siren alarm’, in the hopes that the thief would be dumb and scared enough to dump the phone thinking the police was after him. Ha! Only if it was possible to disable the alarm by the web interface only, it’s pretty useless otherwise.
The major drawback with FoneHome, and with such applications, is that the app can be deleted. Any smart thief would instantly delete the app the moment he comes across it. I don’t know if the iOS 4 allows to password protect the app from being deleted, but if they do, such a feature would be make this app just perfect. Maybe it could also stop the device from being reset or formatted. However, for $2.99 FoneHome is a great app that does what it says on the tin. It’s always good to have a phone tracking device, no matter how basic it is, if you are a forgetful-brain like me.