Apple is to launch Find My Mac?

Rumors had it that Apple is to launch completely new MobileMe cloud service as iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion are to be released one after another. Users in the past have to pay $99 for using MobileMe, but this time Apple may provide users with free wireless sync and cloud-based Multimedia storage services.

A French website Consomac said that they had found in Mac OS X Lion beta an application icon called Find My Mac, which is similar with Find My iPhone. This could mean Apple may introduce the lost and found capability to Mac to helps user recover their laptop.

Well it would be interesting to explore it a little bit deeper. Cell phone, due to its portable feature, we take it everywhere we go, you would not want to miss an important call. So it’s more likely someone may steal it. On the other hand, most handsets are small in size. If we misplace it in somewhere, like in sofa, bed or a bag, it’s not easy to be found by us. Meanwhile, our mobile devices is always turned on, which increases the possibility for us to find it using mobile tracking apps.

But when it comes to laptop, the situations are quite different. In most cases, we leave our laptop in our room or at office. Unless someone break in, it’s unlikely we will lose it. Even if we do leave it somewhere and could not remember the place, considering its size, we could find it quickly. In the meantime, although laptop battery lasts longer than cell phone battery, when we do not use it, we turn it off. So even if Find My Mac has no competition at the moment, it could not locate a laptop which is off.

It’s still unknown what tracing technology Apple will use to track its laptops. However, since it’s unlikely Mac will come with SIM card, GSM tracking may not be used. It’s also impossible for Apple to integrate GPS modules into Mac in the short term, so GPS tracking is not available as well. The most possible solution would be WiFi / IP locator, as we connect our laptop to WiFi access point a lot, whether at home or in Starbucks. Both location technologies lead to not-so-accurate results, so it’s not easy for users to trace their lost laptops using WiFi hotspots or IP addresses. However, Apple may use other tracking technology which is unclear for the time being.

A few days ago, Apple purchased a new domain name iCloud.com at 4.5 million US dollars; analysts say Apple may name its new cloud service iCloud.

2011-May-Mon | Category: Others | Tags: , ,

Charge your handset anywhere using solar power

For years, batteries have been a thorny challenge to mobile devices; there have been just no significant improvements in battery ever since the world’s first cell phone was invented. Many people buy additional batteries for their mobile device plus a charger. You would have probably noticed it if you run mobile tracking apps, GPS, Wi-Fi and mobile internet all eat up your battery power quickly, a few hours late and you will find your handset’s battery dead.

However, a France company called Wysips has made a breakthrough in batteries which could turn your mobile device screen into a solar panel. By apply a thin, transparent photovoltaic coating to your phone display screen; your handset will sip energy from the sun or even the nearby light source continuously, which will charge your mobile battery anywhere as long as there is light. This time, you can throw away your charger.

The coating is a super-thin transparent film, less than 100 microns; it will not affect touch accuracy. Light from the display exits through the lenses undistorted into a user’s eye, but light from the sun or light will be captured to generate electricity. Put it in the sun for 6 hours, it can charge a cell phone battery fully. It’s said that their next generation tech will allow you 30 minutes of talk time after one hour of charging, which is very impressive.

So you will never have to buy a charger, whenever your battery power is weak, simply take it out and lay it on the desk and wait for a few hours. No need to worry about your battery power anymore, talk as long as you wish, run as many apps as you want. Wait a moment, although the company said they want to integrate their technology into cell phones, eBook readers and other mobile devices, there are no such products available on the market at present. Wysips is till working with mobile screen suppliers, mobile makers and carrier on it and hopefully in less than a year we will see some real devices equipped with their photovoltaic films.

Well this is definitely good news for us phone tracking users, we will update you on future news and when and where it’s available. I myself would like to try it as soon as possible to get rid of our charger, only two or three high capacity cell phone batteries are needed.

2011-Mar-Fri | Category: Others | Tags: , ,

How to stop Find My iPhone working

Since Apple released Find My iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, stories about people recovered their iOS device are everywhere. Here are two of them.

1 According to Straits Times, one Singapore woman was robbed and lost her iPhone, and Singapore police got her handset back within 48 hours and arrested the robber with the help of Find My iPhone.

2 According to Weiphone.com, a Texas user’s car was stolen one morning with his iPhone left in the car, so he called the police and located his handset using Find My iPhone. So the police arrested the suspects, but one escaped and drove away his car. Again he tracked his handset location, and the traffic cops arrested the man on highway. Fortunately he got his car and mobile device back.

Well they won’t be so lucky if the robber/thief knew how to disable Find My iPhone or at least be aware that they should do so.

Find My iPhone could help you find your misplaced iPhone, or remotely wipe out your private information, but when it comes to recover the lost/stolen iOS device, there are a lot of improvements to be made. So let’s see how we could stop Find My iPhone from tracking the device location.

1 In most cases, when you could not find your iPhone, the first action would be log into me.com and play a sound or send a message to your handset asking the finder to call a number, but sometimes it could take more than a minute for the message to arrive. Although you just need slide to unlock iPhone, but sometimes a password is required depending on your settings. And what’s more, once you tap OK, the message disappears. Even if the finder want to return your handset (keep in mind this does not work if the finder is not willing to return it), he/she does not know what number to call. So maybe Apple should save the message in memory as a text message.

A message sent from me.com

2 As we all know, you need an Apple ID and password to enable Find My iPhone. But if you do not set a password lock, anyone with basic knowledge of Find My iOS device could easily switch off it or delete your MobileMe account. This way, even if you log into me.com, you will simply find “Find My iPhone is not enabled.”

Find My iPhone is not enabled

3 Although Find My iPhone still works even if the thief change the SIM card, but if he/she takes out the SIM card, or does not let iPad WiFi version connect to any WiFi network, Find My iPhone will stop working.

It also means if the thief switches off your iOS device, there is no chance for you to locate it. Although it’s very rare, but it shows what an awkward situation all cell phone tracking software are facing.

4 Even if the thief does not know how to disable Find My iPhone, he could simply restore factory settings or format the device, this way, MobileMe account information will be deleted and Find My iPhone will be disabled.

Someone may say that the password will prevent the thief restoring factory settings or formatting your device, however, if you hold both power and home buttons for ten (10) seconds and then release the power button, iPhone will enter duff mode. No password is needed.

After restoring or formatting, you could only find the last known location of your iPhone before formatting, you could no longer send a password lock or send a message to it, and every effort is in vain.

I am not discouraging people from using Find My iPhone, especially after it turned free. After all, it helped many get their expensive device back. But there is still room for improvements, if Apple really wants to provide a powerful tool to help their users to protect their iOS devices, they should make constant efforts to make it better. And as the end users, we should learn how to make the most out of Find My iPhone.

2011-Jan-Tue | Category: Others | Tags: ,

6 apps to obtain LAC & CellID for GSM tracking

In order to determine the location of your cell phone using cell towers, you need to know the LAC (Location Area Code) and CellID of the cell tower your cell phone is currently connected to. Then you can enter the LAC, CellID and other data to locate your handset location, this is how cell tower based locating works. Google Maps and other mobile locating apps use cell tower/base station data to determine the location of cell phone as well.

Although you can always enter test mode/field test to get these data, it’s not suitable for normal users, so we can try some cell phone apps to help us.

Symbian

As the world’s most used mobile OS, Symbian mobile devices are very popular here; I myself own two Symbian Smartphones. As a cell phone to make calls and send SMS, Nokia keyboard cell phone is a great success, that’s why lots of people use Nokia mobile devices.

CellTrack. Cell track is a little app running on Symbian to collect the CellID, LAC, Mobile Country Code/Network Code, signal strength and battery usage data of your mobile device.

Fieldtest. Fieldtest (just Google it) can do what Cell Tracker can do for you, at the same time, it shows available cell towers around, if you find a cell tower of good signal quality, you can lock it and enjoy better cell reception. But keep in mind that you need to unlock when you move to another place, otherwise you may find your handset receives signal.

Viking informatics.  Viking informatics, in fact, a piece of web-based mobile tracking app for Symbian devices (you can set up a server to receive data with supplied files). In the meantime, it can be used to get a variety of data such as IMEI, CellID and LAC etc.

Android

Net Monitor. Net Monitor is based on Android and it can help obtain the name of your carrier, signal type (for example EDGE), CellID, LAC and signal strength.

Cell Finder. Please it’s not cell phone finder, but it does what it means. Cell finder can show the cell tower/base station information your handset is connected to and other neighboring cell towers. It can also acquire the GPS coordinates of your handset location.

Cell Tower Locator. Cell Tower Locator is another Android based app derived from Cell Finder. It shows the MCC, MNC, CellID, LAC and signal strength in dBm. Also GPS information are displayed.

GSM signal monitoring. This app promises neighboring cell towers information. Unfortunately I only see the cell tower my handset is connected to. You can download it here.

There’s many more, search on Google Play for yourself.

iPhone

Well for iPhone OS 4.0 (not included) earlier, you can use the test mode/Field test to get these data. Type *3001#12345#* when it’s standby, you can enter Field test and get the MCC, MNC, CellID and LAC.

iPhone Signal. It’s said that this app was developed by Dev-Team, you can buy from Cydia, and it works on iOS 4 as well. You can get the MCC, MNC, CellID and LAC with this app as well. What’s more, it shows on maps the cell tower you connected to, the available and unavailable cell towers as well, which is interesting as you can see the density of the cell towers. Always remember, you can get more accurate location data with more cell towers. However I have not tried it as I do not own an iPhone.

After you get the Cell ID, LAC, MCC and MNC, try GSM tracking, or create a mobile locating app.

P.S. CellID database for reference (http://www.opencellid.org/, http://cellphonetrackers.org/gsm/gsm-tracker.php).

2010-Dec-Tue | Category: Others | Tags: , ,

Real time Android & iPhone flight tracker – Plane finder AR

Last month, a British firm developed and released a flight tracking app for Apple iPhone and Google Android devices called plane finder, when you point the back of your handset at the sky, it can show the position, height, speed, the airline, flight number, departure point, destination and even the likely course of any nearby airplanes.

This app is different from those cell phone flight tracking apps, it can only show the detailed information of flights in an area of some one hundred kilo meters. If there are no planes in the sky when you try it, nothing will display. That is, you can not enter a flight number to find its details.

Plane finder works by intercepting the so-called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcasts (ADS-B) transmitted by most passenger aircraft to a new satellite tracking system that supplements or, in some countries, replaces radar.

You may use it for fun, but security experts said it’s a serious terrorist threat, which can help terrorists to launch surface-to-air missiles to target any passenger aircraft in the sky.

Currently this controversy app is sold at $2.99 in App store (free version), but experts already called for the authority to ban it although there’s no action being taken at the moment. Let’s just wait and see what this will lead to.

If you are looking for flight information or want to track a flight on Google Earth or Google Maps, you may want to check out this post. This app enables you to track flights in real-time on Google Earth, and you can get information about its flight number, altitude, speed and more. If the flight already arrived in its destination, you can view the whole route on Google Earth. In some EU cities, you can view its flight on Google Maps, when you point your mouse on a airplane, the flight number, speed will show.

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2010-Oct-Tue | Category: Others | Tags: , ,

Does GPS cell phone tracking really work

Every day, people write to me, asking to help recover or track their lost or stolen cell phones after reading my blog. They usually give me a phone number, or their IMEI number and email. Well I usually do not reply to these types of inquiries as it serves no purpose.

So does GPS mobile tracking really works or is it just a joke?

Well mobile tracing is not a joke, but the answer to above question is both yes and no.

You can track a mobile device only:

  • Your handset’s better GPS enabled, that is, your handset has built-in GPS chip.
  • You have installed some kind of mobile tracking software and activated before your mobile device get lost or stolen, and is not being removed after.
  • Your handset is on, that is, it’s not being turned off by someone. This is very important as the thieves usually turn it off after getting the mobile device.
  • Your handset can access the internet at the time, this usually means a data plan as WiFi connection is not reliable when your mobile device get stolen.

So of course you can always locate your mobile device and someone wrote to me saying that they used the location software introduced in my blog and they worked. But if you do not meet the above-said requirements and the answer is no, you can not recover your handset, there is actually a story out there that a man called happy waffle get his iPhone back using Find My iPhone.

However you can turn to your service provider and they can get the approximate location based on repeater triangulation. Mobile phone sends out signal from time to time to the towers, so your service provider can use this feature to determine the location of your handset with a precision of 150 meters, but if someone changed the SIM card, your carrier could do nothing except that they can still block that mobile, and they usually decline any such request as well.

Update, there is another story that a US soldier dropped his iPhone from an airplane traveling at an altitude of 1000 feet. Later when he was on the ground, he and his friend used Find My iPhone to track the location of his iOS device and finally got it back in working condition.

2010-Mar-Sat | Category: Others | Tags: ,

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2009-Oct-Wed | Category: Others |

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