Losing a phone is the pits. Our personal and work lives are so dependent on our devices that for a time, some may even feel quite debilitated without them.
Yet we often don’t think of or really want to shell out some dough for tracking apps that can help us find our phones in the event these get misplaced or stolen. We know it can save us much inconvenience and expense, but such apps often get relegated to the backburner of expenses.
Free online tracking apps, however, are here to the rescue. They may not provide comprehensive features for phone tracking and monitoring as specially-built paid apps are created to do. These free little programs though are better than having no recourse to hunting a lost phone down.
How I track my phone for free online
The Android Solution
Find My Device is the Android answer to free tracking of your cellphone or tablet online. Formerly known as Android Device Manager, Find My Device enables the owner to track the cell phone location and even wipe out data remotely. The app is compatible with the operating system versions Ice Cream Sandwich and much later.
For this to work, the app must be downloaded from the Google Play Store. All it requires is a minute of your time. No fees or charges to deal with. Once downloaded, it has to be associated with your Google account. You have to be constantly signed in to your Google account for this to work.
- Open the newly installed app and select the Google account (if you have more than one) you want it linked to.
- Type in your Google password and sign in.
- Allow the app to access your phone’s location.
- Your phone’s Location services should also be turned on at all times.
- Turning on the Location feature will enable Find My Device app to track your phone through GPS. To do this, tap on Settings > Location.
- Once in the Location menu, toggle the switch to ON.
- If this feature is off, the app will have no means of finding the phone; so, it is crucial that this feature be enabled always.
- On another device such as a PC, tablet, or secondary cellphone, go to the Find My Device website.
- Sign in to the Google account linked to your phone from there. Your device should appear as visible.
- Once in this site, you will have the power to remotely ring up your phone, lock it, and even wipe out your all photos, contacts, notes, apps, music, and settings. Whoever has your phone can’t get at your data anymore.
- One caveat, though, data in external SD cards may remain intact from the remote sweep.
The Apple iOS Solution
Find My iPhone is Apple’s free tracking app that does pretty much what Find My Device of Android does. Aside from tracking your iPhone, this little dandy also works to find your Mac and iPad. Your devices, however, need to have some internet connection so that it can be located through your iCloud account.
Find My iPhone is a built-in feature in Apple devices; so, the first step towards securing your phone is enabling the feature.
- Tap Settings > Apple ID (at the top of menu) > iCloud.
- Once in the iCloud menu, scroll down to Find My iPhone and toggle the switch to ON. Find My iPhone is now enabled. Leave this feature enabled at all times so you can track your device anytime.
In case you discover your precious iPhone gone, simply use the built-in Find My iPhone app of another iPhone or iPad.
- Launch the app
- Sign in to iCloud
- Tap on the name of your device for the app to track
You may also track your phone via PC by logging into iCloud (iCloud.com).
- Click on Find My iPhone and sign in with your Apple ID when requested.
- Click on All Devices
- Choose your lost gadget’s name
You will see a zoom-enabled map which will show you the location and movement of your phone. You will also have the options of:
- Play sound – You can make phone emit a tone even if it has been placed on silent or vibrate only mode. Pretty handy feature if the phone is simply misplaced near your vicinity.
- Lost Mode – Will allow you to enter a number to call which will show up on the lost phone’s screen. The phone will also emit a sound to alert anyone to call the number and report the lost and found phone.
- Erase – This option allows you to delete all personal data you may want to keep private. This is the last ditch resort if you have no hope of retrieving the phone or you do not want anyone to have access to your files. Deletion, however, is permanent.
There are other free apps on offer such as Spyzie and GPS Phone Tracker. Their free versions work in much the same way as the above-mentioned apps, as simply a phone locator.
If you are looking to extend your gadgets’ tracking abilities, you may want to look into full version monitoring software. These apps do charge for subscriptions but they enable you to remarkably do way more than just keep tabs on a phone’s location. With paid monitoring software, you can keep tabs on your kid’s digital life, your spouse’s or fiancé’s activities, or your errant employee’s messages and emails.
Good monitoring software should enable you to have access to SMS messages, photos, emails, videos, location, notes, browsing history, and virtually almost anything on the target device. It should also run smoothly and invisibly. KidGuard is one example of such a full version tracking and monitoring app that is compatible on both the Android and iOS platforms.
Meanwhile, don’t get caught flat-footed with a lost or stolen phone. Make the time to install at least a free phone locator app to provide yourself some options in case the unthinkable happens. As the trite but right cliché goes, “An ounce of prevention…” Definitely goes a long way, too.