Lost Smartphone? 6 Free Tracking Apps

You've misplaced your smartphone, again -- or worse, it's been stolen. One of these handy iPhone or Android apps can help you locate it fast.

Aoife M. McEvoy, Contributor

September 11, 2013

7 Slides

It's one thing if your phone is simply misplaced with the ringer turned off. But when your phone is lost or stolen, things get a lot more complicated.

Fortunately, there's a whole category of apps that can help you find your missing phone. If your phone is just out of sight -- having slipped into the lost world between the sofa cushions, for instance -- these apps force it to emit an audible sound to alert you to its hiding spot.

But for phones that have disappeared or been stolen, these apps attempt to identify the phone's location via GPS, and some give you remote control options as well. Just keep in mind that some apps that require GPS to be on all the time will gobble your phone's battery, which could be a problem if it's already running low on juice.

First off, we were curious about what the venerable LoJack offers for smartphone protection. Right now, unfortunately, the company's theft-recovery technology is available only for the Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy S4 Active and Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 -- and the yearly subscription costs $29.99.

But if you own an iPhone, you probably know about Find My iPhone, Apple's own app that's baked into iOS. The app lets you use another iOS device to track down the missing iPhone when you're logged in with your Apple ID. Find My iPhone will make the phone beep, for example, or display a message and lock the device. If necessary, Find My iPhone also lets you wipe your data. Find My iPad works in a similar fashion.

If your phone goes AWOL before you've had a chance to install a recovery app, you can try Plan B or AndroidLost as last-ditch efforts to find it.

So if your phone's in your pocket or purse as you read this, now's a good time to install an app or two in case your phone goes missing or gets pinched in the future. It's a bit like having jumper cables in your car; you never know when you'll need them.

Read on for details about six phone rescuers for your smartphone.

About the Author(s)

Aoife M. McEvoy


Aoife McEvoy lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a freelance writer and editor. Before her freelance life, she was a senior editor at PCWorld, where she worked for more than nine years. Before PCWorld, she worked at IDG Books Worldwide, owned at the time by IDG, which also owns PCWorld. In addition to InformationWeek assignments, she writes for PCWorld.com, and its sister sites, TechHive.com and Macworld.com. She enjoys researching incredibly useful smartphone apps (among other things) for InformationWeek. She has also tested and reviewed speech recognition software, voice-over-IP services, Bluetooth headsets, stereo headphones, and in-car speakerphones.

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