Location, location, location!

I always reckon smartphones as having powers akin to the color-shifting chameleons that blend into their environment. Crystals in the photonic skin of the chameleon are responsible for its color-shifting superpowers, much like smartphone "apps" change the smartphone's utility into different gadgets on the fly.

Out of the box, a smartphone is a mobile phone (Dialer app), address book (Contacts), calendar (Calendar), digital camera (Camera), video camera ("flip a switch" in the Camera), tool to use the services on the internet (type of an app known as "browsers" such as Safari on Apple iPhones or Chrome on Android smartphones), and a turn-by-turn navigation gadget (Google Maps or Apple Maps apps).

Apps such as Maps utilize the GPS (Global Positioning System) chip in your smartphone to know exactly where it is relative to earth by receiving information (i.e. coordinates) from the satellites in the sky. I rely on the Maps app while I drive to give me turn-by-turn directions.

Information from the GPS chip can be used by many other apps on the smartphone. Due to privacy implications, which is a hot-button subject these days, access to what is known as the "location" service of the smartphone needs to be explicitly granted by the user before an app can take advantage of it. A weather app is an excellent example of such an app that you may want to install on your smartphone to get real-time weather information for where you are.

Another use for location information is to track down a lost phone. If you misplaced an Apple iPhone, you can try to locate your iPhone assuming these conditions are met: your iPhone has power, is turned on, is logged into your Apple ID, and is set to use the "Find My iPhone" service. From another device, go to www.icloud.com/find using a browser and log in with the same Apple ID used by the misplaced iPhone. If successful, it should show you the misplaced iPhone on a map. To make sure that your iPhone is configured properly to use the Find My iPhone service in the first place, follow the steps below:

  • Tap the "Settings" icon -> tap your name at the very top ->  tap "Find My" -> make sure "Find My iPhone" is turned "On."

To try to locate your misplaced Android-based smartphone, on another device use the browser, go to android.com/find, and log in using the same Google Account as on your misplaced phone. To make sure that your Android-based smartphone is configured properly to use the Find My Device service, follow the steps below:

  • Tap the "Settings" icon -> tap "Security" -> and make sure "Find My Device" is set to "On." 

I'm a firm believer that services already present on smartphones, such as Find my iPhone or Find My Device, can be a tool if they need to locate a person with memory issues. As long as the person is carrying a smartphone that was pre-configured properly and meets other prerequisites, the loved ones may be able to locate the missing person.

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation

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Volume 13, Issue 17, Posted 10:40 AM, 09.08.2021