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

GadgetTrak, a $3.99 iPhone app, takes a slightly different approach to locating a lost iPhone; it also helps you identify who might have taken it, thanks to its ability to snap a photo of someone using the phone. But its tracking features weren't quite as impressive as those offered by Find My iPhone and iHound. Like those two products, GadgetTrak runs in the background on your iPhone, waiting until you need it before springing into action.

That action can be monitored from GadgetTrak's site, where you log in to track your device. Unfortunately, once you log in, you can't always immediately locate your device. GadgetTrak locates your phone at preset intervals, which can only be changed from within the iPhone app itself--not from the Web controls. If you've left the interval set at the default 30 minutes, you could be waiting for a while before you locate your device. I wish GadgetTrak were more like iHound and Find My iPhone in this respect, as both of those products let you access updated tracking info at any time while using their online controls.

You can, however, set GadgetTrak's intervals to as little as one minute, and it will alert you at that interval whenever tracking is enabled and your iPhone is on the move. You can track its movements on a map, and you'll receive an email notifying you of the new tracking data. GadgetTrak was very accurate in locating my iPhone in most of my tests, accurately placing it in a nearby park, in a parked car, and on a street in a residential neighborhood. It stumbled on my Home Depot test, though, reporting that the phone was on a nearby highway instead of in the store's parking lot.

GadgetTrak also took considerably more time to report its location than did the other products I tested. Even when I had the tracking interval set to one minute, GadgetTrak still did not deliver as immediately as did the other services: I always had to wait for it to deliver the tracking info to me, rather than getting it myself.

GadgetTrak does allow you to send a push notification to the device, which can get you speedier results--if someone has their hands on your phone. Once the user of your iPhone dismisses the notification, which appears as a meeting reminder from GadgetTrak, the app tracks its location. If you've paid $1 (in-app) for the Camera Reports option, GadgetTrak also will take this opportunity to snap a photo with both the front and rear cameras. This is your chance to see who is using your phone, and to scour the surroundings to see if you might be able to locate it. You must, however, pay the $1 in advance for this feature to work.

Bottom Line

Find My iPhone is good for iPhone owners who are looking for a tracking solution only and are not interested in bells and whistles.

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