You'd think after spending hundreds of dollars on the latest flashy piece of tech that people would be more careful with their smartphones and gadgets, but every year security firm Lookout estimates that more than $30 billion in smartphones are lost in America (sometimes in the oddest of places, as this infographic from backgroundcheck.org shows). Fortunately, there's an app for everything, including for finding your lost smartphone. Here are 10 tools you can use to track down your missing mobile devices.
Apple's Find My iPhone is a good stock solution for finding your lost iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. Install Find My iPhone on another device, log in with your Apple ID, and you can use the app to locate your device on a map. You can also set the device to play a sound at full volume (even when silent), and get driving directions to your device. Additionally, you can remotely lock your screen and display a custom lock screen message. Worst case scenario, if you can't recover your phone, you can remotely wipe all your data from the device.
MORE: Best Smartphones
Microsoft also has its own built in phone finder in Windows Phone, this one accessible through a web-based control panel. Find My Phone lets you log in with the LiveID associated with your phone and, if properly set up, allows you to track your phone on a map (and print a hardcopy). When close by, you can set your phone to ring even when on silent mode. Additionally, you can remotely lock your phone and leave a custom lock screen message. Again, worst case scenario, Find My Phone will let you wipe your phone remotely.
While Android has been late with a stock phone finder tool, August 2013 marked the release of the Android Device Manager, a web and Android app that that allows users to remotely find the location of a device. Additional features include setting a phone to ring even when on silent, lock your device, change the password settings, as well as remotely erasing your phone's data as a worst case scenario.
Lookout presents an all-in-one device locator app for Android and iOS devices. Features include plotting your lost device on a map and sounding an alarm, as well as contacts backup and a "signal flare" feature that automatically saves your device's location when battery runs low. Features differ between iOS and Android, with the iOS versions offering a custom lock screen message and the Android version offering antivirus features and a lockscreen camera if someone incorrectly inputs your PIN. A premium level exists on Android ($2.99/month) with more advanced features (like remote phone lock and remote device wiping).
Prey Anti-Theft is a popular, open source anti-theft application available for Android and iOS devices. Core features of the app include tracking your phone via GPS and Wi-Fi, remotely taking pictures from your front and rear cameras, triggering a loud alarm sound, displaying a custom message on your screen, and SIM card change detection on Android. Premium subscriptions starting at $5/month unlock more features, such as enhanced storage of reports and encryption. While it doesn't come with a remote data wipe feature, Prey offers an impressive package, even at its free level.
Another long-standing Android solution is Where's My Droid, a free app that lets you find your phone by by GPS or by setting it to ring or vibrate. Additionally, the app can also alert you when the phone's SIM card has been changed. A password protected menu keeps the app's settings safe, and its commands can be triggered through texts containing "alert words" or via a web interface. Pro features ($3.99 in-app purchase) include the ability to remotely lock or wipe your device and take camera pictures remotely.
MORE: 15 Android Security Tips
Android Lost is a lightweight phone finder application that allows you to remotely control, monitor, and find your device over a web interface or through SMS. The free app lets you trigger an audio alarm or vibrate mode, log the device's location to the web app, lock or unlock your phone, take photos, and more. The interface is pretty spartan, but it is a neat grab bag of features. Premium features ($5 in-app purchase) include a content browser, remote shutdown and reboot, and more.