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Reuniting a lost iPhone with its owner couldn’t be easier

April 6, 2016

lost-iphone-03

Belly button-wise, I’m an “innie”. I wouldn’t mention this except that I’ve read how such personal tidbits are supposed to help build a connection with one’s blog readers. Also, earlier this morning (April 6) I nearly rode my bike over an iPhone 6 on Alder Street and if camera lenses were belly buttons then the iPhone 6, with its protruding aperture, would definitely be an “outie”.

The way that camera lens juts would also seem to make the iPhone 6 a wobbly and unstable road hazard for cyclists—I might’ve wiped out had I actually ridden over it.

I did at least stop and pick it up off the road. It was charged, locked and passcoded and seemed none the worse for having been dropped on the road by someone. I couldn’t leave it there so I took it with me to breakfast.

“I (phone) once was lost but now am found”

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By the time I arrived at the McDonald’s in the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue, the iPhone was ding-donging in my bicycle panier. And when I took it out and looked at it, in place of personal photos on the the lock screen, there was a message:

“This iPhone has been lost. Please call me or email at [personal email address] or return to Vancouver Police Department at 2120 Cambie St. [personal phone number] Call

While I might not have liked the pokey camera lens, I couldn’t fault the iPhone 6’s built-in security and loss prevention features. The strong passcode security helped insure that the lost iPhone was only valuable to its rightful owner and the Lost Mode of Apple’s Find My iPhone made it especially easy to reunite the two.

A decade ago I had to buy pricey third-party apps to put a customizable “lost” screen on my Palm Treo 680 and to have the ability wipe the smartphone’s data remotely. It’s real progress that today these capabilities are freely available for iOS and Android devices.

And it used to be that if you found someone’s phone, you had to wait for the owner to call their number, or, if the phone wasn’t locked, you could root through the address book looking for the number of a friend or relative of the owner.

Today all I had to do was press the word “Call” on the iPhone’s lock screen and in a moment I was speaking to a friend of the phone’s owner and then to the owner herself. And ten minutes later she was there at McDonald’s to collect her iPhone.

She explained how grateful she was to get the phone back—that it was full of baby photos that weren’t backed up on her iCloud account.

I accepted the $10 that she pushed on me but I didn’t really need to be rewarded for simply returning something to its rightful owner. And honestly, it was Apple that did all the actual work.

Not left to our own devices to track down lost phones anymore

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Android Device Manager: the Play Store screen, the location screen and the administrator options screen.

It’s a very good thing that loss recovery features, such as contact message screens and remote tracking, locking and erasing, can now be easily and freely enabled on all iOS and Android devices.

All iPhone and iPad owners should make sure that they have the built-in Find My iPhone app enabled so that in the event that their device is lost or stolen they will be able to remotely track it, lock it, display contact information on the screen and, if need be, erase all the data.

Android users may need to add and configure something like Cerebus anti theft or Google’s free Android Device Manager to have the same capabilities as Find My iPhone. Samsung Android devices do come with a built-in “Find my mobile” feature under the Security setting but this requires a Samsung account and it may or may not leave users open to a serious security flaw that was identified in 2014. Click the images to enlarge them.

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