How much time would it take you replace a lost or stolen iPhone, iPad, or iPod? Don’t count the replacement cost—just the time it would take to get to an Apple store, buy it, activate it, sync it (assuming you backed it up recently with iTunes) and get it just the way you like it?
On a good day, it might take me a few hours. Unfortunately, I know this from experience. Learn from my pain with a couple of cool apps that help get your gear back to you. My advice is to install them before it’s too late.
First, If Found helps you create a background wallpaper with your name and contact info so that if someone honest (we’ll deal with dishonest later) finds your device, he or she will have a way to contact you. The process is that you create a picture with the app, take a screenshot of it, and then make it your background wallpaper by going to Settings—Wallpaper—Camera Roll, and then selecting the picture. What could be worse than losing your device is someone honest finding it and not know how to contact you to give it back? The cost is a mere $.99.
Find My Phone
Second, Find My Phone is a free app from Apple – although it does work with subscription-based MobileMe, to locate your Apple device (see screenshot).
You can also send a sound and message to the device and perform a “remote wipe” to remove your data. And don’t tell your teenagers, but it also lets you know where they are.
If you install Find My Phone, you may be in for an adventure of a lifetime if you happen to leave it in a bar. No, I’m not referring to the Apple engineer who left a prototype iPhone 4.0 in a bar in Redwood City though you have to wonder if Apple tried to recover that phone with this app.
There’s an even better “left my iPhone in a bar” story. This involves three skinny geeks who were attending a LEGO conference (did I mention they are geeks?) in Chicago.
One of them left his iPhone in a bar (what is it with bars and iPhones?) and thought it was gone forever until Find My Phone displayed its location the next morning. It wasn’t without some hijinks and races through rough neighborhoods – including chasing down a thief, which the Lego geeks at Happy Waffle recounted in copious detail.
In the case of the lost LEGO caper, they were able to find the lost iPhone because someone had a 3G USB dongle with his laptop to locate the signal from the lost iPhone. A nicer feature would be if you could use another iPhone to find a lost one.
Still, with summer hitting full swing, your devices are apt to travel far and wide—and probably to a few bars. By spending $.99, joining MobileMe ($99/year after a sixty-day free trial), and nerding out for a few minutes, you may save yourself hundreds of dollars and hours of time – and protect your data. You may even save yourself from having to chase down an iPhone thief.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.