Find a lost iPhone: Putting tracking apps to the test

How well do iPhone tracking apps--Find My iPhone, GadgetTrak, and iHound--really work? We find out.

By Liane Cassavoy, PC World |  Security, iPhone, iPhone apps

iHound's accuracy was very good; it easily located my iPhone in a nearby park, and I was also able to track it down in a neighborhood store. It stumbled a bit on a few other tests: It placed my iPhone more than a block away from its true location in a residential neighborhood, leaving me unable to find it--just as Apple's Find My iPhone did. iHound also stumbled when trying to locate my iPhone in the Home Depot parking lot; it placed it in an adjacent parking lot instead.

iHound tells you how accurate it believes its tracking information is, and the app was always correct in its estimate. But when the estimated accuracy is within 94 meters--a little over 300 feet--it's difficult to locate a device the size of an iPhone. That's when it might be helpful to remotely request your iPhone to play a noise, such as a siren or car alarm sound, or the "Stop! This is iHound" message.

iHound also struggled to provide an estimated address: That section of my security dashboard consistently said, "Could not determine a street address." SafetyWeb says that this is an issue with its mapping provider and that they plan to switch providers in the future. I did like the speed with which iHound worked, though. It quickly located my iPhone when I signed in, and easily found an iPhone on the move when I clicked the option to refresh the last known location. This is very reassuring when you first realize you've lost your iPhone: You want to know where it is as soon as possible. I also like the ability to view a history of last known locations on a map, which helps recreate your steps, and could identify where you lost your phone.

Like Find My iPhone, iHound lets you send a push notification to the lost device. You can compose your own message, or select one of its automated options. You also can play a noise, such as a car alarm or a voice shouting "Stop! This is iHound!" on the phone. The tester using my iPhone earned several stares in a neighborhood park when I tried this feature. To help you recover a lost iPhone, iHound offers stickers that you can place on the phone, which let someone who's found the device get in touch with you via iHound.

iHound has a variety of location-based features in addition to its tracking tools. For example, it offers Geofencing alerts, which let you know when a phone has passed a certain location. You could use this feature to get an alert when your child arrives at school each morning, say. It also allows you to set alerts to share your location via Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.

GadgetTrak Snaps a Photo

Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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