If your Android device is missing or stolen, stay calm and take a breather. We’ve got 5 great anti-theft apps that can help you get your smartphone back or at least keep your sensitive data safe from identity theft.
Some of these apps have features that can help you track down your missing phone by triggering it to ring off the hook, send its GPS location to your email or when worse comes to worst, allow you to wipe your data from the missing smartphone remotely. Not enough? Snap a photo of the perpetrator or record their audio with your phone’s microphone. Yes, these apps can do that and more.
But remember that only some of them can be installed after the phone is lost. The rest of them are preventive measures, meaning you should already have them before something bad happens to your device. With that out of the way, let’s go get your phone back.
Here are 5 of the most popular Android apps to track down a lost or stolen Android device.
[Free] Where’s My Droid is a pure Find my Phone app to help you locate your phone. When your smartphone goes missing, sending a code via text will make the phone ring (even when set in silent mode) while another text code sends you the GPS coordinates of the phone.
Alternatively, you can remotely control your phone by connecting it to the Commander option, a web-based interface. Where’s My Droid also offers a Pro version which lets you take pictures with the camera (you might be able to take a snapshot of the perpetrator), remote lock the phone rendering it impenetrable or remote wipe the app to save your data from misuse.
[Free] If you had not install any tracking app before your Android device was stolen or misplaced, Plan B will be a lifesaver. Plan B is an Android app from Lookout Labs which locates your smartphone using cell towers and GPS, then sends the location of your smartphone to your Gmail Inbox.
In some smartphones, Plan B can enable the GPS on the phone then update you with its location every 10 minutes. For phones with no such support, you can text ‘location’ from another phone, and details of the missing phone’s location will be sent to your email. In the absence of a data connection, the software will send its location via SMS instead.
[Free] This app is not only perfect for finding your lost phone, it will also torment the thief (something which we’re sure they fully deserve). You can activate (via SMS or the Web) the alarm to ring with a flashing screen, enable and disable the GPS, data and Wi-Fi connection, remote wipe the SD card, and get their latest call list.
Although it’s a free app, the app lets you take pictures from the smartphone camera (front and rear) and make your phone speak using text-to-speech. Once the SIM card is changed, you will be informed via email. This app can be used even after you have lost your smartphone due to its remote install feature and is hidden from the launcher to prevent uninstallation.
[Free to download; Pro: $2.99/mth] This has all the regulars, remote lock and wipe, SMS activation, ring alert even in silent mode, hide from view mode, and GPS-enabling feature. You can also retrieve the most recent call logs – and it works even without a SIM card plugged in.
The Pro account (monthly subscription) lets you track the movements of the stolen smartphone with a history map so you know where your device is heading. You can also get protection for multiple devices, and receive notification for when it leaves a pre-selected fenced-in area (good for keeping watch on your little ones).
More Anti-theft Apps
Didn’t like any of the above? Here are a few more anti-theft apps, some with the added protection against viruses that you might pick up while surfing the Web.
[Free; Pro: 2.99 euros] Cerberus has all the works, remote alarm trigger, tracking via GPS, remote wipe of the SD card as well as the internal storage, remote lock of the phone, plus alerts of a SIM change. You can also record audio from the microphone. The free version lasts for a week, while the Pro version lets you use it for up to 5 devices under the same account.
[Free] To use Prey Anti-Theft you have to get it installed before the phone goes missing. To find your lost phone, you can activate Prey via SMS with the words “GO PREY” in all caps then log into the Control Panel via the Web to mark the device as ‘Missing’. You can then receive notices of where your phone is. The app is hidden and can only be uninstalled with a password.
[Free; Premium: $2.99/month] You can find your lost phone on Google Maps, sound a loud alarm (even from silent mode) and lock your phone remotely with this app. In the event that your phone has run out of battery, it will notify you of its last known location. Also has an automated backup and restore function which can be accessed from the website.
[Free to download; $30 a year to keep] Here’s the award-winning software that will keep your smartphone safe from the inside out. It comes as a 7-day free trial but to keep it on your phone, it’s a $30/year subscription. For that sum, you get the regular anti-theft protection, antivirus protection, plus data backup and restore functions.
[$4.95] This one has plenty of anti-theft protection, with remote block, remote wipe and device-tracking capabilities via GPS, Wi-Fi and Google Maps even if your SIM card has been replaced. Unwanted or unknown calls and text messages can also be blocked, and it lets you hide certain information from friends and family who borrow your phone for use.
[Free; Pro $29.99] This software can give you total protection for all your devices. Lost devices can be located on a map, and the Pro version gives you a scream alarm to help you find your missing device. A nifty trick it has is that the phone is automatically locked once the SIM card is removed. It also backs up your data whch can be easily restored.
[Free] Besides protecting your devices from virus attacks, it also can locate your lost or stolen phone via Google Maps and lock your device to protect your privacy via a text message. If your phone or tablet is stolen or missing, you can also set a lock screen message to help the locator find you and make your device ring even when it’s on silent mode.
[Free] The anti-theft feature for this antivirus is actually a hidden component which can be remotely controlled via SMS commands sent from another phone or through the Web. You can log into Web controls to perform mobile tracking and/or give your phone commands.