Monday, June 13, 2011

OMG! You’ve Lost Your Smartphone or Tablet! Now What?

Is your iPhone MIA?
I hope you never have that heart stopping feeling that you’ve lost your smartphone or tablet device. First there’s that frantic rummaging around in the bottomless pit of your handbag, tote bag, or briefcase, or tapping on every single pocket on all your clothing. Then you stop in your tracks to recall the last time you had it. Bewildered, you stand there as if in a trance, straining your brain to remember the last moment it was in your possession. And then there’s the realization that it’s gone. Truly gone.

But then you remember that you’re not doomed to never seeing it again or to knowing that if someone less than honest has it that they also have all the information in it. Why? Because you turned on the “Find My Phone” feature when you set up your device. You did do that, didn’t you? Whaaaat? You didn’t? ACK!

Well, before it’s too late, let me teach you how to turn on this amazing feature that lets you track its whereabouts, send a message to your device, and if all else fails, wipe out all the precious and sensitive information that it contains.

Of course, that information would have been protected if you had turned on the pass code feature. Don’t know how to do that either? Read my article to learn how, and do this first: “You Lock Your House, Lock Your Smartphone Too.” It’s your first line of defense to protect the information in your iPhone, iPod Touch (4th generation), iPad, Android, and Blackberry smartphones and tablets.

Now, back to finding that lost device. It’s really quite simple to do, and once it’s done, it’s like having homeowners’ insurance: you have it and hope you never need to use it.

Forgive me in advance for going into the details of how to set this up on Apple devices, but reading the article’s details will tell you what this function is capable of doing and since similar procedures and capabilities exist for other types of devices, I’ve included links for them below.

iPHONE, iPod Touch (4th generation) and iPads
If you already have a MobileMe account *, you’ll want to sign in from your device. Here’s how; Go to the “settings” section of your device. Click on “Mail, Contacts, Calendars.”  

It's the slider for "Find my iPad" on the bottom.
There you’ll see the “Find My iPad” slider (if you're doing this on an iPhone, it will say "Find my iPhone", etc.), and the name of that specific device shows up. Slide it to the “on” position.  You’ll be notified that this allows your device to be located on a map, so you’ll want to click “Allow” and then tap the “Done” button. There! It’s that simple!

Now that it’s turned on it’s a good idea to test the service and get familiar with what’s possible. You have two choices  for how to do this: (1) Go to a computer and access on the Internet, or (2) If you have another Apple device, go to the “Find iPhone” app. Don’t have the app? Click the link to download it.

Find Phone app
If you’re doing this from a computer, sign in with the name and password that you set up earlier (if you have a full MobileMe account, you want to click on the “Find iPhone” icon on the far right of the screen). You’ll see a map of the world along with a list of the device(s) you registered with Find My Phone. The system will take a moment to scan for your device(s) somewhere in the whole world. A green dot next to its name indicates that the device has been located. If a red dot appears it means that the device either can’t be located, its power is turned off, or it’s in airplane mode.

After you click on the device’s name you’ll be given several options that you can choose to do remotely from the computer or device you’re on:

Send a text message to your
device's home screen.
(a) send a text message with a sound
This message will appear on the home screen, locked or not. It will also make a sound to attract attention to the device. In the message you’ll send you can ask the reader to call you (if it's the cell phone that's lost, use a phone number other than your cell number). This way you can make arrangements to get your device back. Go ahead, try it and send a message.

Or remote lock your device
(b) remotely lock your device
If you haven’t already, you can lock the device with a pass code. This will prevent anyone from accessing the valuable information the device contains.

Or, wipe the device's content
(c) wipe all the information off the device
This option can’t be reversed, which is another good reason why you want to back up your address book and calendars regularly.

If the Karmic wheel is turning in your direction, someone who reads the message you sent to the device will call and you can make arrangements to get it back (FYI: DO NOT arrange to meet at your house – you don’t know this person nor do you know what their intentions might be).  If it’s irretrievably gone, at least you know you can protect or wipe the contents so no one else can have access to it.

If you’re an Android device user there are apps that have these same functions, so visit your Android app store and download the one that does this best for your device and needs.

The same applies for Blackberry users: visit their app store and find the one that’s right for your device and needs.

Now that you know how to do this, you no longer have any excuses for leaving information vulnerable on your device, so go forth and be safe.

* If you don’t already have a MobileMe account it’s too late to add one now; since the announcement in early June of Apple’s upcoming iCloud service in September they’ve discontinued adding new members to the MobileMe service. Don’t worry though, when it goes live you can be sure that I’ll be reporting on what it is, how it works, and what it can do for you.

The information contained herein is for guideline purposes only, is not intended as an endorsement of any product, and is no guarantee of the results.

Images courtesy of Apple,
Copyright © The B. Hammil Company 2011

1 comment:

  1. I have used this and it really worked. Turns out I left my iPad at the office and it told me where it was!


Thanks for leaving a message. I'm always interested in your thoughts and comments, and look forward to reading what you have to say.