Lost & digitally found
This is part of the series on privacy in the digital world.
An old friend of mine, who has a type B personality, was anything but calm when he called me one sweltering day last summer. So much so that I thought he was involved in an accident … or worse. I could guess only every other word he was rattling off at the speed of sound.
When I could finally interject, I told him to call me back on the Duo app I had taught him to use (instead of FaceTime) since I have an Android phone. I figured the added "visuals" of a video meeting app will help calm him down faster than just audio. But he couldn't call me back using the Duo app. The reason for his panic, and the reason he couldn't call me back using Duo, was because he had lost/misplaced his new $1,000+ iPhone while vacationing abroad!
Before he left for vacation, I had a beer (or three) with him at our hut so I can share tips when traveling abroad. For example, a tip to minimize surprise surcharges when communicating back stateside from abroad and making sure he had the correct iCloud Photo settings on his iPhone so his mischief, err "fun," can be preserved.
One thing I always check, and actually it's on my checklist for setting up new smartphones/tablets, is to confirm that "Find My iPhone" is turned ON in the Settings app. Sure, it is not 100% foolproof but this feature greatly increases the chance of zeroing-in on the location of your iPhone/iPad that is AWOL.
Pro tip: when setting up an iPhone/iPad, it is recommended to additionally add a trusted cell number (that is not yours but of someone you trust) to your Apple ID profile so they can receive verification codes for the required two-factor authentication, "2FA" for short, explained below.
Since I set up his new iPhone, I already knew he had another trusted cell number listed. I also knew that he had no other Apple devices registered under the same Apple ID used by his missing iPhone, hence the verification code must be sent to the alternate cell number.
I started a browser on my Windows laptop, typed in icloud.com/find, provided his Apple ID, typed in his credential, and provided the verification code from 2FA. After a few seconds, up came the map and the location of where his iPhone last checked-in with Apple. From this clue, I told him to look everywhere in his room as his iPhone on the map was superimposed at the location of the hotel he is staying at the resort.
The same functionality, "Find my Device," is available for Android-based smartphones/tablets at google.com/android/find and, similar to how the Apple version works, this one uses the Google Account used by the lost Android-based phone you are trying to locate instead.
Having a greater chance to find your lost device is a privacy compromise worth making in my opinion. He found it stuck in-between loveseat cushions and was able to enjoy the rest of his vacation.
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.