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Mar 8, 2013 — Greetings and salutations! Wesley here; I’m the IT Assistant at the Daviess County Public Library. In this edition of the Smart Phone companion, I discuss Apple’s iCloud and Find My iPhone – two very useful tools for Apple iDevice owners. I also offer a few suggestions for those looking for a similar experience on Google Android-based devices. Enjoy!
Let’s face it: modern-day gadgets are getting more expensive and miniscule each year. This, of course, means that losing them is easier and much more frustrating. Take me, for example; I’ve actually pondered contacting the Guinness Book of World Records every year since purchasing an iPhone to submit myself for “Person Who Lost Their iPhone the Most.” Do you have as much trouble keeping tabs on that device as I do? If so, you’ll be happy to know that Apple provides a great way to track them down – Find My iPhone.
Find My iPhone, a cloud-based application, is one of the most useful parts of Apple’s iCloud system (I’ll further expound upon iCloud in a few paragraphs). Using the app, an iPhone owner may log into iCloud.com and find the approximate location of their missing phone (Apple Map Critics: you’ll be happy to know that Find My iPhone uses Google Maps). The only catch is that the service has to be enabled (bring up your iPhone’s settings menu. See iCloud? Tap it and then flip the Find My iPhone switch to the on position) and the device has to be active. With that criteria met, here’s all you need to do to use the service: log into iCloud.com with the Apple ID you used to register this phone (hint: it’s likely the email address & password you use with iTunes) and click the Find My iPhone button. This will produce a Google Map with your phone (Note: iPads and iPod Touch (players) also have a Find My… feature). I’ve used Find My iPhone numerous times and have found the results to be quite accurate. A test ran from within the library with my phone by my side nearly pinpointed my exact location in the building!
Here’s a scenario I’ve found myself in before: Find My iPhone reveals my phone to be at my address but it’s still unable to be found. Thankfully, the application can force your device to emit an incredibly loud & annoying tone, even it’s on silent. This has saved my bacon numerous times. It also has two great features for folks who suspect their phones have been stolen – Lost Mode and Erase Mode. With Lost Mode, you can remotely lock your phone and send a message to the screen (i.e. Fifty-dollar reward if returned. Let’s meet at the mall or another well-lit, public location); Erase Mode will wipe all your personal data from the phone. As an added bonus, you may track your phone or enable Erase/Lost mode from another iDevice by using the “Find My…” application available in the App Store.
iCloud is a cloud-based backup, syncing and locating system for Apple’s iDevice family. It has existed under other names & in various forms since 2000. Remember iTools? How about MobileMe? Those two suites evolved into the iCloud we have today, which is incredibly useful. With it, you may store multiple things online – bookmarks, calendars, reminders, notes, iWork-created documents, saved games and more. These things may be conveniently accessed from multiple iDevices. For a more robust experience, visit Apple’s website and download the completely free iCloud Control Panel for your PC or Mac. It brings email contacts, bookmarks and photos from your computer into your iCloud. Purchasing an iDevice earns you 5GB of iCloud storage; anything beyond that carries a nominal fee.
Looking for an iCloud-like experience on an Android-based device? Here are a few apps to try – Dropbox, Google Drive and Kies Air. With each of those, you may backup & sync several types of data between your computer and phones. Give Plan B and Where’s My Droid a shot if you’re looking for something like Find My iPhone.
Apple, if you’re reading, I’d like to put in a request for an iKeychain and Find My iKeychain service. Then, you’ll have met all my needs. Oh, you might want to rig something up to remind me which one is my car key, too.