Lost and found

Here’s how to get your phone back when it goes out of your sight.

You’ve been home for a while, but they haven’t called you back yet. Come to think of it, no one has called or messaged you. Then you realise that your phone isn’t with you. Maybe you left it on the counter at the coffee shop, or among the carrots you were selecting at the shop. Either way, you need to find it fast. Here’s what you do next:

IOS

Grab one of your other Apple devicesand launch the Find My app (it’s the one that looks like a radar). If you were smart, you would’ve turned on location sharing when you initially set up your device. Bonus smugness allowed for sharing your location with those in your Family Sharing group, because then you should come up on their Find My app quite easily. Now you should have a map view and approximate location of your device, or the last know location if your phone is off. This is also where you can ring your phone, erase any content, or lock it down so that it can only be activated or turned off with your Apple ID password. No other Apple device? No problem. Simply go to iCloud.com on any web browser and enter your iCloud account details. Then use Find My on there. The interface should be the same and you’ll also be able to see the devices of whoever is in your Family Sharing group. Apple improved the effectiveness of this location tracking on newer iPhones by granting it the ability to broadcast its location over the Bluetooth or, in some cases, the same tech that powers AirDrop, to other devices so that your phone doesn’t need to be connected to data/WiFi to hear your call.

Android

Type ‘find my phone’ into any Google search bar and you’ll be happy to know that Google will locate your Android devices on a map view in the first search result. Well, you need to be signed in to Google for it to work, so there is a small hurdle. As long as your device is connected to some sort of data network, you can locate, ring, lock and erase from anywhere in the world. When you sign into your Android device during set-up, Find My Device is turned on by default as part of the Google Mobile Services. Huawei users can benefit from a similar service that’s tied to their Huawei account through Huawei Mobile Services.

Windows computer

This can get a bit tricky, but is totally doable from any web browser. Sign in with your Microsoft account details, then go to ‘Devices’. This is where you’ll see a list of all the devices you’ve signed in on, even mobile phones with the Your Phone Companion app or Microsoft Launcher installed. The first page you’ll see in the Info & Support tab, but you want to be in the Security & Protection tab. Now select Find My Device. It’s an admittedly crude service, and navigating to the proper function is clunky, but at least it exists. The weirdest thing is that once you’re in the Find My Device section, then all your devices are listed on top, and you don’t need to navigate to them individually.

Keep in mind

  • Locations are a best guess, depending on network conditions and whether or not there is GPS coverage (non-LTE iPads and notebooks don’t have GPS antennas, for instance).
  • The device needs to be connected to WiFi or data to report a location.
  • Remote lock and remote erase can overridden by hacking techniques.
  • It is best to have a password protection or some form of screen lock enabled on your device, with a name or low-risk contact information on the lockscreen.
  • Do not attempt to recover your device from an alleged thief without law enforcement’s help.
  • The police can trace your device over the cellphone network with far better triangulation.
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