How to Locate Your Missing Devices and More



Losing your keys, your wallet – or anything else, really – can be distressing, but there’s a wide world of trackers that can help you locate your missing items – with impressive accuracy.

Lost and Found: How to Locate Your Missing Devices and More

Have you ever had that brief moment of worry when you pick up your phone and don’t immediately find it in your pocket? It’s a familiar feeling for many of us. Your heart might skip a beat when you quickly check your other pockets. Then, almost always, you find it stored in its usual place, like the hidden compartment in your coat. It’s a little reminder of our dependence on these handy devices, isn’t it? In this blog, we’re going to talk about some ways to avoid those daunting moments of sudden anxiety.

Physical trackers

Physical trackers are small circular or square shaped objects that use simple replaceable batteries to stay charged for a long time. Products like Apple AirTag, Tile or Samsung SmartTag are small enough to fit in your pocket, a secret compartment in your car or your luggage. Indeed, for travelers traveling with luggage on trains and planes, there have been times when they have proven very useful for find the missing bags. Or, if you cycle a lot, you can even hide one in a Bell so you feel safe knowing your bike is right where you left it (or tracking it if it goes missing).

Bluetooth and ultra-wideband (UWB) technology allows these small trackers to operate via a secure frequency activated by the manufacturer, which then uses the tag/phone owners’ network to locate it, with the tracker’s location displayed in an application, like Pommes Find my or that of Samsung Find smart things.

An important thing to remember about manufacturer-specific tags, like Apple’s AirTag, is that they are designed to work exclusively with their own brand’s apps or devices. So an AirTag would not be compatible with an Android device, for example. Additionally, these trackers rely on a network of similar devices to be located, as they do not have GPS capabilities. When it comes to GPS trackers, they are particularly useful for keeping tabs on objects that are always moving and require regular location updates, like vehicles. These trackers rely on satellite technology to pinpoint their exact location, making them ideal for tracking dynamic objects.

The other side of the coin (mid-sized devices)

Technologies are tools, and the very capabilities that make physical trackers so valuable for locating misplaced items also make them vulnerable to misuse. It would therefore be remiss of us not to mention the potential risks associated with the use of trackers.

What happens if someone slips a tracking device into your bag or car without your consent? In fact, there was many cases where people claimed their whereabouts were being tracked by stalkers using devices such as AirTags. These concerns have led to calls to improve the security of Bluetooth-enabled trackers, particularly to thwart their misuse for harassment.

In response, Apple and Google have teamed up to combat this type of unwanted tracking, including by rolling out new anti-harassment features for their mobile products and operating systems. For example, you should receive a notification if an AirTag that isn’t yours moves with you, whether or not you own an AirTag. iOS– Or Android-powered smartphone.

Furthermore, the two technology giants are working on a joint proposal for a industry specification to combat security risks associated with unwanted tracking via Bluetooth tracking devices. There is some hope that the specification, which has also gained support from manufacturers of other Bluetooth tracking devices, could be finalized and updates will be available for iOS and Android in 2024.

Since the technologies carry both opportunities and risks, it is prudent to be aware of the potential risks associated with Bluetooth tracking devices.

Tracking Software

Software solutions are another set of handy tools for locating lost devices. These can either be pre-installed by the device manufacturer and linked to your account, or they can be third-party apps, often provided by security companies. Among the most popular are those that are already installed on your smartphone, such as Samsung SmartThings Find or Apple’s Find My. These apps aren’t just for finding your phone; They can also help you locate other devices, like your smartwatch, laptop, or tablet.

Setting up these device finder apps usually starts with creating an account, which is linked to your device and confirms that you are the owner. The most notable feature of these apps is their ability to display your device’s location on a map. It is interesting to note that this card is often accessible via Internet browsers, a feature that some physical trackers also offer. Even if your device is offline, these apps can pinpoint its location. This is possible thanks to technology similar to that used in Apple/Samsung trackers. They leverage a mix of location data sources, including GPS, crowdsourced Wi-Fi hotspots, and cell tower locations, to provide precise positioning. Owners can also choose to use third-party apps and trackers. Some anti-malware solutions offer device tracking as part of their premium general public offersuch as using anti-theft features to locate your device through an online portal or in an app.

Are there any other alternatives?

In the past, cell tower triangulation was the most widely used method of tracking a device, using multiple cell towers to measure the time it takes for a signal to return to the towers from a phone. This delay is then calculated in distance and gives a fairly precise location of the phone. However, it is not as accurate as GPS trackers, and it is also less accurate than modern forms of triangulation using a combination of cell towers, Wi-Fi, and other data, especially in areas rural areas, where there are fewer cellular networks. turns.

This alternative is rather clunky and is mainly used by cell phone service providers to track cell phones or by law enforcement.

The choice depends on what you want to follow

So what is your best option if your phone goes missing? First, set up tracking software on your phone as soon as you start using it. This way, if your phone ever goes missing, you will be able to track its location with a good degree of accuracy. Additionally, it’s a good idea to secure your phone with a screen lock, whether it’s facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, or password. This added layer of security can help prevent unauthorized access to your personal apps and accounts. Second, as soon as your device disappears, call yourself if there is a chance that you might hear your phone ringing or if someone would answer your call. Likewise, try locking it remotely using the tracking app as an added security measure.

If you’re worried that your phone is permanently lost, it’s important to take a few steps right away:

First of allcontact your service provider to block your SIM card. This will prevent anyone from using your calls and data plan. Followinguse the tracking app you have set up on your phone to remotely erase all your data. This way you can protect your personal information from unauthorized access. As for Other devices or equipment, use physical trackers. They are best used for luggage, bags, cars…basically, items that have no other ability to track and trace them. For hikers, GPS trackers it also makes more sense than relying on their phone’s location.

Overall, the world of trackers is very diverse. Always try to keep your belongings safe, but remember that if you or your devices are lost, you now have the knowledge to locate them more precisely.

Before you leave: NSA shares tips on how to limit location tracking

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