What future phone anti-theft technology looks like?

Cell phone tracking can be great; it’s like magic since it could find your lost handset. However mobile tracking is not everything, it has weaknesses too. There are a few situations that cell phone trace might not help, one of which would be it could take a long time for you to realize that your Smartphone is gone. If you are aware of the unfortunate incident in time, there’s a chance you can get it back at once and do not need to turn to GPS tracking technology.

Well do not worry; new technology can do that for you. Apple recently filed a new patent application utilizing in-built accelerometer and special anti-theft protection system to detect the unnatural movement of its iOS devices initiated by people other than its owner. The system will sound the alarm if it detects something similar to pre-determined “profile characteristic of theft.”

In order to avoid false alarms and improve the accuracy, Apple added signal filtering hardware to the new system. For example, the module ignores signal produced by vibration for strike of the mobile devices. Generally the accelerometer reacts to all kinds of accelerating movements and sends out the signal.

Apple will also let the users configure the sensitivity. The customers can set the value for the sensitivity, the alarm sound and the volume of the sound. In the meantime, the warning message can be showed on the screen too.

Although all iPhone, iPad and iPod come with accelerometers, they lack the signal filters and the protection system. So basically we will not see them on any available iOS devices.

Apple is not the only one to use this technology. Google has already got their patent on it approved. The new Google patent is about protecting its Project Glass from stealing, a device costs up to $1500 (more expensive than most Smartphone and tablet on the market). The patent showed that Google Glass will stop working and lock the data once it recognizes unnatural movements. For example if someone yanks it. But what if the thief quietly takes it away? Well the built-in sensors can also identify the thief by the differences of the way how people wear it. That is, the angle and strap tension, etc. That’s right; the glass records how the rightful owner wears it.

Natural movement

Unnatural movement

While the device could not stop others from stealing it, it does protect your data stored and notifies the authority of lost.

We do not know yet how effective this new technology works. However we will know better when devices equipped with it become available. Judging solely from the information available, it seems promising. And the thieves could lean the tricks about how to avoid or even crack it once they get to know enough. A case in point is cars get stolen with the advanced security alarm system installed too. While the big question still lies in how to get it back after handsets goes missing. After all, locate a device is relatively easy, while recovering it is another story.

2012-Nov-Fri | Category: Cell phone tracking | Tags:

Top seven free cell phone tracking software

Find the best free cell phone tracking software for GPS enabled mobile devices to locate family members or find your lost/stolen cell phone or record tracks of trips!

Since many location based companies entered this field, the end users can choose their favorite location services and apps. So I decided to compile this list of top free mobile location software ready for our visitors in terms of features and functionality.

MobiWee

MobiWee is the one that could challenge Apple’ Find My iPhone and it’s not merely a mobile locating app. It runs on various platforms like Windows Mobile, Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry mobile handsets. Users can remotely locate and track their misplaced or lost handsets, retrieve their information. If users could not find their handset, they could lock it , encrypt, wipe private data, and even delete certificates (available for the corporate user only), and shutdown their mobile devices from any web browser- even if the SIM card has been changed. Furthermore, it’s also a file manager, you can use it to backup your contact and send SMS as well.

Find more about MobieWee

Glympse

Glympse is a piece of free cell phone tracking software that allows GPS-enabled mobile device users to share their location on a map for a pre-set period of time with anyone they choose. With Glympse, you have full control on who you want to see your location, where and for how long. So your privacy is protected.

Unlike other location sharing and tracing services that require users to create an account and build a friend network, Glympse only requires a simple download of their app. There’s no need to sign up. Although you could not rely on it to find your cell phone, but it qualifies a good location sharing app for various mobile devices.

Find more about Glympse

iLocalis

iLocali is free location tracing app for iPhone, although Apple released Find My iPhone long ago, but it charges $99 for a full year.

Features:
-Track your iPhone location. You can sign in to their website and acquire the coordinates of your iOS device online.
-Retrieve your stolen or lost iPhone. If unfortunately your iOS device get lost or stolen, you just have to log in to their website and get your iPhone location. You can even send a message or make a call remotely.
-Let your friends or family track you. You can allow your friends or family to track you by using iLocalis, when you get to their near-by places, it will send a message to them, and it’s free!

Find more about iLocalis

Mobile tracking system

Mobile tracking system has some solid features, the latest version is 1.51. It works great on Symbian devices which let you track your handset’s location easily. We also got a simple guide on how to use it.

Features:
1. Tracking a mobile device location from a GSM mobile device or GPS receiver.
2. Tracing your current location from a GSM device or GPS receiver.
3. Add or edit a cellid directly from the mobile client.
4. Real-time user locating (if allowed by user).
5. Send and receive e-mail messages directly to and from the MTS client.
6. Send and receive MTS chat messages.
7. Send and receive files.

Find more about Mobile tracking system

Mobile defense

Mobile Defense is like LoJack for your Android Smartphone, it helps you find your lost or stolen mobile via Mobile Defense’s website. It’s more or less like Find My iPhone, and unlike a location based app, it did help people get their device back.
* Find your misplaced or lost mobile via Mobile Defense’s website.
* Remotely lock your handset if you could not get it back.
* Send alerts to your handset with alarm sound and security pin.
* Once successfully installed, the app is not detected on the handset (you have to go through “Manage Applications” settings to know it’s there) so the thief will notice it, and you stand a better chance of finding your handset.

Find more about Mobile defense

Update, Find My iPhone now is free for iPod touch, iPhone and iPad, so you can count it as one of the best free mobile tracking software as well.

Update, if you have a BlackBerry device and in need of a LBS app, check out BlackBerry Protect.

Update, if you have a HTC Android Smartphone, you may have a chance to try their cloud cell phone backup service at htcsense.com, it’s like Find My iPhone which can help you find your misplaced or lost handset, and it’s completely free!!

Android mobile tracking apps roundup

If you have an Android device, it may not be so easy to choose a location and anti-theft app appropriate for your needs. It seems to me that Android location app is coming out every day, with most of them have the same basic location tracking functionality, some have more handy and practical features.

To help you choose the right app, I have compiled a list of the best Android tracing software. Most of them are free to use, while a few are still unknown as they are in beta.

Norton Mobile Security

As the leading PC anti-virus software company, Norton entered the mobile industry long ago. This time it brings us its Android mobile security app, it’s handy and powerful. As a mobile security app, it lets you scan your Android device for malware and block unwanted incoming calls and SMSs in addition to remote locate your missing or stolen phone. If you could not recover it, you can use the remote lock and wipe to save your data and private information.

The setup process is quite easy, you just have to hit a few buttons and enter a pass code. It does not have web based control panel, so you have to use SMS commands to locate and lock your missing handset. However it works exactly as it should..

Norton security is compatible with Android 2.2+, however it’s not free! It costs $36 after the trial period, which is way too expensive. If you could afford that kind of amount and need its anti-virus and call&SMS blocking functions, it’s a good option.

Plan B

We have already introduced Plan B, in case you do not see it, find it here.

Plan B allows you to remotely install it onto your missing Android device, which means you need a Gmail account to log in to Android market and you can install the app after your handset goes missing.

It comes in two versions, free and paid. Free version does not include remote lock and wipe while you can still locate and play sound. Like Norton mobile security, it’s more than a location tracking app. However, it only charges $2.99 monthly and $29.99 annually, which is lower than the former.

If you also need its security functions, it may be worthwhile to pay the amount. However if you just look for location tracking and securing capabilities for your phone, there are always other options.

AndroidLost

AndroidLost is designed for one single purpose: help find your lost Android device. However it offers some neat features compared to other Android location tracing apps.

AndroidLost does not require pre-install, which makes it somewhat like Plan B. But it has more functions, and for free. Once your handset goes missing, you can not only view its current location on Google Maps, play a alarm, remote lock and wipe it, but it also lets you read the status of your handset such ass battery use, IMEI number, SIM card ID.

What’s more, you can remotely read the call log and short messages on the phone, or forward your call to another handset. You can even use the front camera to capture a picture of the person who uses your mobile device (Android 2.3 only) so that you can identify him/her once you get close to the area.

AndroidLost provides two ways to use it, browser based interface and SMS commands. If you prefer former, you need to sign in to their website use the very same Gmail account you log in to Android market.

This is an ideal location tracking software for Android, in our test most of its features worked like a charm. Since it’s free, I recommend it.

Phone Lock & Tracker

This app is extremely simple with no additional capabilities other than what it says by name. The setup requires administrator privilege, otherwise it won’t work correctly.

Once the setup is finished, you can use SMS commands to locate or wipe your cell phone, no web based control.

One thing worth noting is that if the incorrect password is entered several times (depending on your settings) either by you or others, it will remove everything from your handset, including the MicroSD card.

Although this app stands out because of its simplicity, it may lack some important functionality. As you can only control your handset wirelessly, it’s only normal sometimes the app won’t respond to your commands. If this really happens, there is nothing you can do. But if you want to check it out, find it here in Android market.

Remote Ringer

By name, remote ringer has something to do with mobile device mode and this is exactly what the app does. Sometimes you leave your phone somewhere in silent mode, there is no way you can find it by calling it using another handset.

With this app, you have to enter an authorized number and secret code during the setup process. Next time you forget to turn on the ringer mode, you can easily enable it.

Well this isn’t something new, HTC cloud service has the same feature long ago and you can always use our cell phone finder if you do not have any other handset.

There’s always more

If you find none of the above apps meet your requirements, I have already reviewed on my blog many mobile tracking software for Android, like Glympse, mobile defense etc, you can always find them and more mobile tracing apps here.

2012-Mar-Fri | Category: Cell phone tracking | Tags: , ,

Android anti-theft app Gotya helps identify the thief

Without a doubt, mobile tracking technology could help people find their lost or stolen handset. Giving that WiFi and cell tower positioning technology have already been integrated in the location based services, we can obtain the location information of a mobile device easily without GPS. However, imagine when a stolen cell phone is found to be in a building or a park, how could we tell who get the missing mobile device?

Laptop anti-theft programs would use the front camera to take screenshots of whoever use it, and these pictures could be used to identify the thief. We can even get to know the thief’s Gmail, Twitter or Facebook account. And this is how Joshua got his stolen MacBook back.

Well a recently released app called GotYa! could do the same thing for your Android phone. Once you install and activate it, the app will take a picture of the user using Android device front camera whenever there is incorrect screen lock entered, of course you need to enable the in-built screen lock first. Well I personally think the app should take a few more screenshots, not just the people who use it, but also the phone screen, as it could provide more information such as Email address or social website account.

The app comes in two version, limited free version and full paid version. The paid version takes higher resolution pictures and does not have the big watermark which would otherwise appear on the screenshot taken by the free version. In addition, you can request remotely location information, call back, and alarm sound with the paid version via SMS. To be honest, the free version does not even worth a try at all.

The screenshot comes with GEO-TAG information and produces a link to its location on Google Maps, which will then be sent to the given email address as well as Facebook.

Unlike other mobile tracing apps which allow you to view real-time location and control the missing phone remotely online, the app only produce Google Maps links and receive SMS commands. Furthermore, you could not do a remote lock or wipe out. So if you could not get your handset back, your personal information may not be safe any longer.

The app is now available on Android market at $1.99 USD and has already received lots of good reviews. But I just could not locate the free version however hard I try. Well if you are interested, you can find the paid version here.

2011-Oct-Thu | Category: Cell phone tracking | Tags: ,

Find My Friends finally goes live

When Apple rolls out iOS5, its new LBS app also becomes available. The new app, which is called Find My Friends, is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod running iOS 5. Unlike Find My iPhone – which is used to locate your own iOS device, Find My Friends lets you share your whereabouts with your friends and vice versa. Meantime, parents can use this app to keep track of the activities of their kids as well.

As a matter of fact, Google has already released similar service and I have been using it for a while – Google Latitude. Find My Friends is pretty much like Google Latitude, with some improvements. If you are familiar with Google Latitude, Find My Friends won’t soud strange to you.

Find My Friends is part of Apple’s new cloud based service iCloud (Still remember MobileMe?). In order to use Find My Friends, users need to upgrade to iOS 5 and download the app from App Store here. Once the download is complete, you can sign in using your Apple ID.

Now you are ready to add friends and its quite simple. Just send a request to your friends via Email, and yes you need to know their Apple ID first. Once your friends accept your request, you will be able to track him / her. But your friend needs to send another request to you in order for you to share your location information.

Find My Friends use in-built GPS to obtain your location information, so you need to left it on. As GPS and internet connection could drain cell phone battery quickly, I do not think the iPhone could last long running the app.

Find My Friends also does a good job in protecting user privacy. With Google Latitude, you can decide on who to share your whereabouts and the level of it (either exact address or city level or enter a location manually). Find My Friends does all of that, in addition, it allows you to set a period of time to how long others can see your location. As you can trace multiple iOS devices at the same time, this is extremely useful when people have a temporary get-together.

Parents can also use Find My Friends to keep track of their kids for free. Yes, free. In the past, parents need to use similar paid service like Verizon family locator; Sprint family locator and ATT familymap and they are all charged on a monthly basis. Now parents can use Fine My Friends in stead, unless the kid learns how to jailbreak the device.

Find My Friends only works on iOS devices, while you can use Google latitude from any PC, Android or iOS handset. However Google latitude iOS version really sucks and I prefer Find My Friends. However, it still faces strong competition from Foursquare as LBS service.

Cell phone tracking is everywhere

Apple and Google are not the only ones to collect and store cell phone users’ geolocation to develop and improve their location based services. There is more accurate mobile devices’ location tracking being performed everyday and we are even not aware of that. If you have a GSM cell phone and are an AT&T or T-Mobile customer, there is a chance that you have already been tracked by a Pennsylvania company called TruePosition.

According to wired.com, TruePosition has been providing geolocation tracing to carriers for about over ten years. Every year, about 60 million E-911 (Enhanced 911) calls are handled by this company to save lives. As long as the device is turned on, carriers can use TruePosition technology to locate any cell phone user include us which is horrible.

Their location tool, which is called Uplink Time Difference of Arrival (U-TDOA) has nothing to do with GPS tracking. They do not rely on GPS receiver inside mobile devices to get the location, but rather they use base stations to do the job. TruePosition developed a sensitive receiver which could receive signals sent from cell phones and calculate the time it takes, and then their server which is called Wireless Location Processors will calculate the difference in time received by different base stations / cell towers to determine the location of the device.

What is astonishing is that TruePosition have installed their receiver in about 75,000 cell towers around the country which provides with them a geolocatiom accuracy of 50 meters while E911 only requires an accuracy of 300 meters, which is adequate for locating any handset accurately.

With this advanced tool, TruePosition was able to develop a location technology they call geofencing. It creates an invisible barrier around some sensitive areas like critical infrastructure  which only allows authorized people to pass, while unauthorized cell phone users will be detected and trigger alerts. They have used this technology to trace terrorists at airports and monitor suspects.

Now it’s easier to know how AT&T family map works, however Verizon and Sprint family locator functions the same way.

TruePosition location technology makes it easy for people to trace their spouse and parents to track their kids. According to a latest survey by Retrevo, 30% men and women would like to track their partners, while over 50% parents want to locate their children.

TruePosition now markets their location technology to worldwide governments, which has already caused deep worries as not all governments respect human rights and it may be misused.

People find the location of their iPhone but…

Ever since Find My iPhone was launched, I have been collecting stories about people getting their iOS device back using Find My iPhone and I have introduced some of them in other posts. Although Find My iPhone/iPod/iPad (and Find My Mac? Probably) were intended for finding our misplaced phone, they did help people recover their lost/stolen device. Today we have some more stories about it, and the result? Some get their handset back, some not.

According to Manchester Evening News, <update, link’s down, check the cache> a woman got her iPhone stolen while she was having lunch during shopping. She immediately called her husband who as able to track down the lost device using Find My iPhone. A minute later her husband reported the location to the local police.

To our surprise, Manchester policed used a helicopter to locate the thief who was driving. Well I can only imagine it in US action movies. Eventually the thief was arrested and the stolen iPhone was returned to its owner, thanks to the police.

But the man of the second story was not that fortunate although last December in his area a woman got her iPhone back with the help of police and their helicopter too. Sydney Morning Herald reported that a man in Melbourne lost his iPad as well as other stuff worth 2 thousand dollars. The man, who is called Tim M used Find My iPad to locate his tablet and even sent a message to it asking the thief to return it with a telephone number without a reply. He then called the police and waited a month for them to get a warrant to search the suspect’s home although he knew there his iPad was.

This poor man just could not get his iPad back and the thief also deleted his account from the device, so he could no longer locate it.

Well, it is not the most miserable story. US youth baseball umpire Carl Ippolito, like the above two, misplaced his iOS device, so he used his son’s iPhone to locate it. Fortunately, he found the location of his handset and rushed there where a man called Brent Johnson was talking on an iPhone.

Ippolito might be too irrational over losing his handset, he attacked Johnson and took him down to the ground after he denied of stealing Ippolito’s iPhone. Apparently the target was wrong as Ippolito himself was to blame for misplacing his device in a snack shack. However the whole thing was not ended, the police arrested Ippolito later for assault and disorderly conduct.

Obviously Ippolito does not know much about Find My iPhone, he should have simply called his iPhone or play a sound remotely and the jail can be avoided.

We can see from the above stories that Find My iPhone alone may not help people get their iOS device back especially when the handset is being stolen by the thief. In this case, we need the help of police and if they do not act, the chance is very thin as you could not search the thief’s home for obvious reason. As an individual, the best we can do is avoid losing our handset and protect our private data.

Copyright © 2009 Profone Tracking by Alex Zaah. All Rights Reserved.