Unless you’re willing to lash it to your forearm, chances are good your phone is going to go missing at some point. I don’t mean lost or stolen, though that’s always a possibility; rather, phones have a way of falling out of pockets and into couch cushions. Or bouncing onto the floor and under the couch. (Seriously, couches are like the Upside Down for phones.)
But maybe you just left it in the car? Or upstairs in the bathroom? Laundry room under a pile of freshly folded clothes? Wrong pocket of a purse? Dang thing could be anywhere, and you’re running late!
What better way to rescue lost tech than with other tech? For local, hard-target searches, consider leveraging one of these cool and unusual tools.
1. “Alexa, find my phone”
You can ask Amazon Echo devices for just about anything: pizzas, Uber pickups, even storytelling. But can Alexa actually locate your phone, too?
Yes! In fact, there are three ways to use an Echo to locate a misplaced phone. The coolest is a combination app/skill called Trackr, which will make your phone ring loudly — even if it’s on mute — when you say, “Alexa, ask Trackr to find my phone.”
That’s a huge plus over the old-school method of calling your phone — assuming you actually have another phone around with which to do that. (So many people have abandoned their landlines.) If it’s muted, your house better be whisper-quiet if you hope to hear the phone vibrating.
2. “Phone, where are you?”
Not sharing your living space with Alexa? That’s OK, you can still ask your phone to show itself, as long as it’s within earshot. The app that makes this possible: Blare for Android.
Like an Amazon Echo, a Blare-equipped phone is always listening — in this case for whatever keyword or -phrase you set up. You could make it something like “Rumpelstiltskin” or “Phone, where are you?” Then, whenever you need to find your phone, just call out that trigger.
Assuming your phone hears it, it’ll, well, blare: a loud alarm will sound, even if the phone is set to silent, and there’s an option to make it vibrate and flash its LED as well.
Although such an always-on app sounds like it would be a battery-killer, the developer notes that it’s memory-efficient and “doesn’t take up a significant amount of battery.” There’s a free, ad-supported version, but as part of the app’s introduction, you can get the premium, ad-free version for just 99 cents.
Fear not, iPhone owners: An app called Marco Polo brings this same basic functionality to iOS. Alas, despite the amusing implementation — you yell “Marco!” and your phone responds, “Polo!” — the reviews suggest this 99-cent app isn’t particularly adept.
3. Push-button tracking
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could push a button and make your phone beep? That’s the idea behind short-range trackers like Tile and Trackr. (Yep, the latter is the same Trackr mentioned above, but this time with hardware other than Echo.)
It works like this: You attach a little Tile or Trackr fob to your keychain. It’s perpetually paired via Bluetooth to your phone. Push a button and presto: the phone starts beeping, even if it’s on mute. This works in reverse, too: You can use the corresponding app on your phone to find your missing keychain.
There are a couple limitations, of course, starting with the comparatively limited range of Bluetooth: You might have to walk around a bit before the two items get in range of one another. You also have to make sure you can find the button when you’re trying to find your phone. (If your keys go missing with similar frequency, consider giving the button a permanent home, say, in your kitchen or by your door.
A single Tile will run you $25; a Trackr, $29. (The price drops a bit if you buy multiples.) Depending on how often a missing phone causes you aggravation, and how great that aggravation gets the more time you spend searching, that might prove money very well spent.