Windows Phone 7, Day 24: Find Your Lost or Stolen “Mango”
By Tony Bradley
30 Days With Windows Phone 7: Day 24
I have never had the misfortune of losing my mobile phone. If I ever did, though, I would definitely be thankful for services like those offered by Microsoft for Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” and the windowsphone.com site.
The main windowsphone.com site has information about Windows Phone in general–overviews of the features, a link to the Web-based app Marketplace, a link to compare and buy one of the many Windows Phone models, and How-to guidance to walk you through the features and functions of the Windows Phone platform.
Since I already have a Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” phone, the most useful link–with the possible exception of “How-to”–is “My Phone”. If I log in to the windowsphone.com site with the Windows Live ID associated with my “Mango” phone, and click on My Phone, the site provides access to virtually all of the same information I can find on my phone.
The top of the “My Phone” page displays the gallery of photos I have taken with my “Mango” phone. Beneath that, my Xbox Live account, and Office Mobile files are featured, and below those two are links to my contacts, calendar, and email inbox. I haven’t linked up my personal email account with my Hotmail account, though, so the email inbox link just takes me to an empty Hotmail inbox.
The coolest part of the whole “My Phone” site, though, is the “Find My Phone” feature. Let’s assume I can’t find my smartphone. I don’t know if it was stolen, if I forgot it at the restaurant last night, or if it’s stuck between the couch cushions. When I click on “Find My Phone”, it opens up a map that pinpoints the current location of my device–even identifying the name of my neighborhood along with the date and time the location was acquired.
The mapping function will at least enable me to narrow down whether it is somewhere nearby in my house, still sitting in a booth at the restaurant, or somewhere on the other side of town with its “new owner”.
I can ring the phone to help me find it. Find My Phone will send a signal to the “Mango” smartphone forcing it to play a loud alert tone. Even if the volume is all the way down, or the device is set to vibrate only instead of ring, the alert tone will still play…loudly. If I do ever have to use this feature, hopefully my phone isn’t “lost” in my wife’s purse while she is watching a movie at a theater. I’m sure she won’t appreciate being “that” persper whose phone rings in the middle of the movie.
If I am concerned that my “Mango” smartphone is now in someone else’s possession, I can remotely lock the device. Even if someone is actively using it, windowsphone.com will send a signal that locks it so it can’t be used without my password. What’s really nice about this feature, though, is that it lets me type a short message to display when it locks–like “Hey, you seem to have my phone. Please call me at 555-123-4567 so I can arrange to pick it up” or something to that effect.
If nobody responds, and I still can’t find my smartphone, I can take the more drastic step of erasing it. When I click on “Erase” I am presented with a message explaining that the erase feature literally returns the phone to its factory state. All data on the device, including pictures, apps, music, and associated accounts will be wiped out and the other aspects of the “Find My Phone” service will no longer work.
Erase is definitely a measure of last resort, but it’s nice to know it’s there. It’s also nice that Microsoft provides the mapping, ringing, and locking capabilities to help you locate your lost or stolen “Mango” phone, or at least protect the data it contains.