What would you call the most important app on your phone? Is it your favourite gaming app that you rely on to survive your daily commute, maybe? Or perhaps it’s your favourite social network? Maybe your most treasured app is your favourite photography app that you use to capture precious moments with friends and family.
Nope, the most important app on your mobile is none of the above. The most important app on your mobile is the only one you’ll need when disaster strikes and your beloved smartphone is lost or stolen – a phone recovery app, such as Find my iPhone or its Android or Windows equivalent.
Insurance for when disaster strikes
These clever apps have a number of helpful options to help reunite you with your lost or stolen handset. You can track the location of your phone through the handset’s GPS capabilities. The app can emit a loud noise for a number of minutes to help you track it down, even if the phone is powered off or on mute.
Some apps even come with the option of sending a pop up message so you can let whoever has your phone know an alternative contact number or offer a reward for the safe return of the handset.
The Apple Find My iPhone app also comes with the option of requesting an email if your phone goes offline and is then turned on again at a later stage, outwitting a thief who steals your phone and immediately powers it off to throw you off their scent.
The clever Android app Plan B can even be downloaded after your phone has gone missing by automatically opening up and sending details of your phone’s location to your Gmail address.
A number of these apps also come with a remote data wipe option, which allows you to delete all your personal data from the phone remotely. It’s not ideal, but at least it protects sensitive and personal information and files stored on the phone from the prying eyes of a phone thief.
As clever as these apps are, they’re no match for an enterprising crook. A phone thief will know about ‘Find My Phone’ apps. If you have an iPhone, all the thief has to do is connect your phone to a computer that’s running the iTunes program and wipe it, rendering the Find My iPhone app useless.
What’s more, these handset recovery apps may not work if your phone is powered off, or if the battery is dead or if the handset is unable to connect to the Internet to power GPS.
The good news is phone theft is being taken more seriously.
Making your smartphone an ‘empty wallet’
CTIA, the international association representing the wireless telecommunications industry, is cracking down on smartphone theft with the creation of a database containing the serial numbers of stolen smartphones in the US and Canada.
This will allow carriers to list the serial number of stolen phones, block the stolen device and blacklist the handset to prevent it being reactivated.
This makes the phone an ‘empty wallet’ that’s impossible to sell on and of little use to a thief, and hopefully a big disincentive to them stealing from someone else.
Take two minutes to protect your phone
It’s a step in the right direction for protecting our expensive gadgets, but little consolation if you’re left phone-less. Take a few minutes now to download a phone recovery app and adjust your settings to make sure your phone stays with its rightful owner!