Q: Thankfully, I haven't lost one of my smartphones or had one stolen -- yet. But I worry that I might: They're not cheap, of course, and I've been hearing from more and more friends and acquaintances who are misplacing them and can't get them back. What sort of precautions should I take?
A: The day after Atlantic associate editor Jared Keller was robbed at gunpoint on the north side of Washington, D.C., he walked you through his attempt to retrieve his smartphone. Jared hadn't installed any of the several phone-tracking programs available on his Android device before the robbery took place, so he was stuck using Plan B, a tool that can be installed on your phone after it's been lost. While the program can be helpful in retrieving lost devices in some instances, it did little to assist our editor, simply pointing him towards a large apartment block within city limits. So now he knows roughly where his phone is -- and that he'll never be able to get it back.
Use Jared's story -- or perhaps this has happened to you or someone else you know -- to install Apple's Find My iPhone service if you're using one of Apple's smartphones. Since the program has been free since November, when Apple rolled out iOS 4.2.1, there's no reason not to.
The same day that we ran Jared's story on The Atlantic Tech, Lifehacker published the results of its most recent survey. Lifehacker, one of the many Gawker properties, asked its readers about what their favorite apps for finding lost smartphones are. After several days of voting, the site presented the top five and put them to a vote; 32 percent of respondents found that Find My iPhone was the best program currently available -- better, even, than some programs that must be purchased.
For a step-by-step guide to using Find My iPhone, which is available for any device running iOS 4.2.1 (an iPhone 4, a fourth-generation iPod Touch or an iPad) from the App Store, visit this post we put together back when Apple made the program free.
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Image: Apple Store.