So many mobile phones are stolen we are told by the police – snatched as you walk in the street with it visible or place it down momentarily while in a shop or bar. It’s also so easy to mislay your phone or leave it in a shop or in the car.
Whilst you may have the phone insured to cover the loss, we perhaps have a duty to help make thefts less rewarding to villains and more likely to detection and prosecution.
Two main app types can help with this – identifying the thief and tracking the thief.
Below I discuss the first of these.
Identifying the thief is achieved by installing an app and using the password you have set up (I hope) to unlock the phone. If the wrong password is entered by anyone, the front facing camera on the phone takes a photo of them, finds their GPS location and sends you an email with this information.
An app for Android phones is GotYa! app (£1.99) and for iphone Find My iPhone (free). I’m not sure if there is an app available for a Windows phone.
I have implemented the GotYa! app on my Android phone, as detailed below. If there is a demand I will publish the details of implementing Find My iPhone next month (please contact me if you are interested in this).
GotYa! unusually I found very easy to set up, providing you choose “Gmail” for the email system it will use to send to you. If you don’t have a Gmail account it’s easy to set up click here.
Once the GotYa! app is installed and you run it a series of prompts are displayed which you can tick and also enter details. I made the following settings.
Enable – tap this to activate the app.
Password – tap on this to enter a password which must be entered to change the GotYa! settings in future – I used my normal phone password.
WARNING: DO NOTE DOWN THE PASSWORD AND KEEP IT SAFE.
Failed login – this is to activate the photo and email procedure for invalid password entry – tap on this and choose after 3 attempts which will also tick the box.
Email notifications – to send notifications of failed logins (and other facilities) – tap to tick the box.
Friendly mode – not necessary but probably advisable to allow access to the phone after a specified number of failed entries of the password. (Check this out later – see below.)
Email settings – tap this to enter your email details.
Account – tap on this then choose either Gmail (the simplest way) or Other (you’ll have to set up the technical details of your non-gmail email account below).
Recipient – tap on this to open a dialogue box to enter your email address so as to receive emails from your phone.
Manual Settings – Only if you’ve chosen Other above will you need to enter the technical details below here.
Test Email – tap on this – if everything is OK you’ll get “Please check your mailb0x” otherwise you’ll get an error displayed and will need to check the details you entered above.
AND THAT’S IT! SIMPLE!
You can test the operation of identifying the thief by entering an invalid password when you turn your phone on. You should get an email with a photo of yourself attached and click on the link to open a Google map which will display your location. Entering this incorrect password will not bar the phone from accepting your subsequent correct password entry.
Another use of this is to initiate an email to yourself to locate your phone if mislaid or locate a person carrying it (or another phone with the app installed). To achieve this and other actions remotely you send a text message from any other phone – click here for details of what is possible.
One last word. There is a Friendly mode under the Settings: which grants access to your phone after some wrong attempts at entering the password. You may want this to guard against you mis-typing it a few times when under the influence or if you have clumsy fingers like me 🙂 . It does not change the initial phone phone protection thereafter.