Lost & found, redux

Earlier this summer, I wrote about using the "Find My Device" app for Android smartphones/tablets and "Find My iPhone" app for iPhones/iPads and Mac computers on a borrowed device to locate your missing smartphone/tablet.

In a nutshell, when the "Find My Device" switch (found under the "Security" subcategory in the "Settings" app) or when the "Find My iPhone" switch (selectable once you click your name at the top of the screen in the Settings app of the Apple device) is enabled before your smartphone/tablet goes missing, your chances of locating your missing device increases. I can't stress this enough: please do not practice vigilantism if you were a victim of theft; hand over the location information to the authorities and let them handle it.

Like my friend in that summer article, my wife also occasionally misplaces her eye glasses or smartphone. Yes, her smartphone! I find this funny as smartphones have become ubiquitous, so much so that we treat them as one of our bodily appendages – LOL. Come to think of it, if smartphones were one of our bodily appendages, they provide many functions through hundreds of available apps while an organic appendage like a hand singularly provides limited functionality comparatively.

Upon rereading that article, I see that I had omitted an easier way my friend could have located his $1,000+ iPhone while on vacation. Instead of telling him to look everywhere for his iPhone in his hotel room after verifying the approximate location, I could've instead more easily "led" him to his misplaced phone, thereby saving us time. But how could I have led him to his misplaced iPhone?

These two apps, as well as the websites google.com/android/find or icloud.com, include the option to signal the device to play a loud sound. The app/website will also force the device to play a sound even when the phone is set to vibrate or to silent mode. This is exactly what my wife asks me to do for her so she can locate her misplaced smartphone easily!

Also, there is another very important functionality that the apps provide in case you can't find your missing smartphone/tablet. Although writing-off a smartphone, tablet, a Chromebook, or an Apple computer is painful, the information on your device and/or the information stored in the cloud (aka internet) that can be reached via the missing device, should be considered priceless. So if you are "sure" that your device is unrecoverable, to minimize the risk of your PII (Personally Identifiable Information) falling into the wrong hands, these apps let you execute what I call the "nuclear" option. The nuclear option, when executed, erases all data on the missing device.

This is also a good time for me to remind you to set a screen lock on your device, if you haven't already, as the first line of defense when your device goes missing. Remember that the information on the device and/or the information in the cloud that the device can get to, is priceless.

Better be safe than sorry.

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. Please visit EmpowerSeniors.Org for more information!

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Volume 14, Issue 24, Posted 11:22 AM, 12.20.2022