Smartphones aren’t easily replaceable, considering the vast amounts of data we carry around inside of them. Two or three handy swipes through the average smartphone are likely to reveal a cache of sensitive information, from expansive address books to gigabytes of personal photos. Naturally, this makes losing your phone a frightening, and potentially expensive, proposition. Fortunately, Phound!, a new app from security software company Kaspersky Lab, has your back.
Newly available on Google Play, Phound! is an anti-theft/phone finder/remote wiper built for just about any scenario that unwittingly separates you from your mobile device. Think of it as a slightly deeper alternative to Google’s own Android Device Manager. Through the app, you can perform a combination of actions to help you find your phone – or clear out your data to minimize the potential damage.
After installing the app, you have to register for a Kaspersky account to make use of it. Thankfully, everything here is free, and the company’s marketing department doesn’t seem too eager to barrage you with pitches for additional software or services. Your Kaspersky account is also your portal for logging in online and activating controls on your lost or stolen smartphone.
After signing in to said account on any web browser, you can access your smartphone remotely. The first function is Lock & Locate, which–you guessed it–locks up your phone and finds it using GPS. The only drawback to this is that you need to have location services already enabled on your phone for the function to work, which doesn’t exactly help if you can’t access your phone to turn the GPS on in the first place.
Prior to firing off the locate signal from your desktop, you can use the portal to type in a message that appears on the phone’s lock screen. The default is “I’m lost,” but you can personalize it to say whatever you want. Next, the website provides you with a map view of the phone’s location including latitude and longitude coordinates. From this point, your smartphone can’t be unlocked until you key in a website-provided PIN.
If you still can’t locate your phone and could use a bit of sonic assistance, the Alarm option takes things up a notch by locking the phone and having it emit an incredibly annoying noise that can’t be shut off until the aforementioned PIN is keyed in. This feature also lets you key in a personalized message that you can use to contact (or threaten) the holder of your device. In testing, we discovered that this feature doesn’t require GPS to be enabled.
Your next option is called Mugshot. This feature locks your phone, finds it with GPS (again, if you’ve got it turned on), and activates the on-board camera to take a candid shot of whoever’s claimed custody of your property. This is also useful in helping you identify any landmarks or nearby objects that may aid the search for your device if you’ve only misplaced it. The results of the snapshot are delivered to the website portal, which you can blow up to get a better look or plaster across social media to enlist the help of others.
Finally, if all else fails, Phound! also includes controls to Wipe All Data and Wipe Personal Data, which do what their names would suggest. The former draws a clean slate on all application and device management capability, while the latter takes care of the rest. Another bonus: GPS doesn’t have to be turned on for either of these to work.
Phound! performed well in testing and the application itself (in combination with the Kaspersky website) is easy to figure out, requiring little to no instruction. The fact that location services have to be enabled in order for the locate function to work is understandable, but the inclusion of a remote “turn on GPS button” would be a smart inclusion in future updates. Fortunately, the Alarm, Mugshot and Data Wipe features can all still work without it. The app is also a bit of a pain to uninstall, as it takes device administrator privileges and can potentially lock you out of your own device if you don’t follow Kaspersky’s unnecessarily obtuse instructions.
Nevertheless, Phound! is a functional and worthwhile solution to an all-too-common problem. It can be downloaded for free from Google Play right now, and requires Android 3.0 and up.