Find My iPhone: No App For That

By on Jun 24, 2009 at 5:39 pm

mobileme.com failI’ve decided to start a new series of articles here at Appmodo called “No App For That” because even though there are tens of thousands of apps in the app store, I just don’t buy Apple’s marketing campaign of “Yup, there’s an app for that”, especially when even Apple is at fault for not having an obvious “app for that”.  The series kicks off with “Find My iPhone” and yup, there’s no app for that.

With the introduction of the iPhone 3.0 software comes a wonderful new service only available to MobileMe customers ($99/year individual, $149/year family).  It was cool before, as it offered some great Exchange-like wireless sync services like the ability to sync messages, contacts, calendar items, and more.  But now–now it is really super freakin’ cool.  Why?

“Find My iPhone” allows you to login to your account at www.me.com, click your Account icon at the top of the page to reveal your account options which now include “Find My iPhone”.   Before this can work, however you have to enable it on your iPhone:

How to Enable Find My iPhone

I only mention this because it’s amazing how many times I’ve been asked how to do this, even though it’s beyond the scope of my “no app for that” rant here.

  1. Enable “Push” on your iPhone: Settings > Mail Contact, Calendars > Fetch New Data, then make sure Push is on.
  2. Add your MobileMe account to your iPhone if you haven’t already: Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account… > MobileMe
  3. Once your account is setup and you have Push turned on, go to your MobileMe account under Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  4. Scroll down to the “Find My iPhone” option and turn this on.

Note that both settings are by default usually turned off.  Finally, what if someone finds your iPhone and turns these off?  Well, then “Find My iPhone” will be useless.  Both have to be enabled!  The only way you can protect yourself is to enable password protection on your iPhone.  So go to Settings > General > Passcode Lock and take care of that next.

“Find My iPhone” App

MobileMe has all of its functionality built into the mail account, rather than an app.  I can see the logic behind that.  But what’s really needed is an iPhone app specific to the Find My iPhone functionality, but why?  Here are a few scenarios:

Scenario 1: Find My Phone

By the time you figured it out and called the restaurant, it’s gone.  A thief has made his way out of the area with your expensive phone.  You realize that you paid for MobileMe and you can just use your Find My iPhone app, or can you?  There’s no computer in sight, but the friend you’re with has an iPhone.  You fire up www.me.com and what do you get?  The screen shot above, telling you you’re SOL–go find a real browser, it says.  Why on earth does Safari Mobile not work with www.me.com is beyond me.  There’s no way around this brick wall, which is unfortunate.  There’s no way for you to access Find My iPhone or any other MobileMe services from your iPhone.  Frustrated?  I would be.

Scenario 2: Find My Wife

If you’re wife or girlfriend is anything like mine, her iPhone is buried deep within the bowels of a gigantic black hole of a purse.  Add to the situation the noisy restaurant, and her purse is under the table.  It’s still in service, but if you think she’s going to hear it ring and answer it, good luck buddy.  You’re in the area, but she never called you to tell you which restaraunt she’s at to meet her.  Find My iPhone can help you, right?  Yes, but you can’t get to www.me.com and no, there’s no app for that!

Scenario 3: Find My Family

With the advent of Find My iPhone and the Family Pack, it’s oh-too-easy to give accounts to your other family members to enable this feature.  Why is this cool?  Well, if you’ve ever wondered if your son is playing hooky from school, or your wife is not really at the supermarket, but just down the street ‘visiting’ your best friend Brian, then behold the power of Find My iPhone.  Login to their account, go to Find My iPhone and within seconds their whereabouts are tracked down.  But what if you’re not at a computer to go to www.me.com?  Yes, you guessed it.  No appy for thatty.

Think about this scenario in a corporate environment… give your employees MobileMe accounts, insist they are Push and Find My iPhone-enabled, and know where they are at all times.  Could be useful for some businesses, and a privacy issue for others.

Make an App for That!

I seriously doubt that a third party developer can tap into the interworkings of the Apple empire to develop this app, so this is a plea specifically to Apple.  Please develop a Find My iPhone app for the iPhone.  And give it the ability to easily manage multiple accounts, not just one.  Then you’ll be able to say “there’s an app for that”, empowering an iPhone to find another iPhone.

Please post your thoughts below in the comments area!

Tags:

Filed: FeaturediPhone
  • James

    I'd really enjoy this if Apple could integrate some kind of device for Find My Keys and Find My Wallet. But this is a great new way for Apple to get people with iPhones to buy MobileMe.

  • Brian

    AT&T has a service that you can buy and it will show you the phones on your family plan on a map. I haven’t tried it but I have seen it as an option through the iPhone app that they have.

    • Yes, it's called FamilyMap. Problems are: 1. It's not an app (it's a web page) 2. It's horribly inaccurate compared to MobileMe's Find My iPhone 3. Quite often it couldn't find a phone when Apple's Find My iPhone could 4. It costs $10/mo for monitoring 2, $15/mo for monitoring 5 phones 5. $120 a year is hard to justify it, when I'm already paying $150/year for MobileMe Family plan. I signed up for the 30 day trial to test it out, but I won't be continuing it.

    • Yes, it's called FamilyMap. Problems are: 1. It's not an app (it's a web page) 2. It's horribly inaccurate compared to MobileMe's Find My iPhone 3. Quite often it couldn't find a phone when Apple's Find My iPhone could 4. It costs $10/mo for monitoring 2 phones, $15/mo for monitoring 5 phones 5. $120 a year is hard to justify it, when I'm already paying $150/year for MobileMe Family plan. I signed up for the 30 day trial to test it out, but I won't be continuing it.

  • Mr. Brown

    The make the mobile me service is native to browsers like safari. If you download an alternate browser (I use arachnid) you can use the site like normal and locate your iPhone with an iPhone

  • LoveIphone99

    Same here would love to have that app. An alternative seems to me: Did anyone found a workaround to access https/secure.me.com directly from the Iphone? it doesn't work for me… maybe some proxy tweaks?

    • It would be nice to get it to work, but I've yet to find a way to do it!

  • LoveIphone99

    To make it work on Safari I see two (potential) problems a: – Does me.com restrict access to the Iphone Safari browser (i know how to change the name of my blackberry browser so web sites think it's actually Internet explorer…no clue how to do that on the Iphone) – Finally would the Find My Iphone application (the map) actually work on the Iphone Safari browser?

  • LoveIphone99

    A "solution"… use your Iphone to "remote control" your Mac or PC…. good luck with the speed and zoom in and zoom out ;) (ok i'll stop posting until i have something more intelligent to say)

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  • Chuck

    Now there's an App for that. Released this week.