How to locate cellular GPS
Most smartphones currently on the market, including cheaper ones, have a GPS module that allows you to locate the device remotely and easily orient yourself when using map services, such as Google Maps and Apple Maps. GPS can also be useful when you have to meet friends and want to follow their position on a map, so why not take advantage of it and find out which apps and services allow you to make the most of this potential?
If you are interested in the subject and want to find out how to locate cellular GPS, take five minutes of free time and read the directions I am about to offer you. We will first see how to use GPS to remotely locate a smartphone in case of theft or loss (now almost all devices include a free pre-installed anti-theft system as standard) and then how to use GPS to monitor the location of friends or share the our position with other people.
In short: whatever your needs and whatever smartphone you use at the moment, be it an Android device, an iPhone or a Windows Phone, you should be able to find solutions suitable for you and instructions (I hope clear) on how make the most of them. Have a good reading!
- Locate mobile GPS in case of theft or loss
- Windows Phone
- What to do if your smartphone is stolen
- Mobile GPS Tracking App
Locate mobile GPS in case of theft or loss
Let’s start with how to locate cellular GPS in case of theft or loss, and more precisely how to locate a smartphone using the anti-theft services included as standard in Android, iOS and Windows Phone and some third-party apps suitable for the purpose.
If you have an Android smartphone and do not want to preclude yourself from being able to locate it remotely in case of theft or loss, go to its settings (the gear icon located on the home screen or in the app menu) and check that the remote location and control services are active.
Then go to the menu Geolocation and, if the lever relating to geolocation services is not active, activate it by moving it to ON. When the operation is complete, go to Google> Security and check the options Locate this device remotely And Allow remote blocking and wipe are active: if they are not, activate them yourself. If you can’t see find the item Google in the settings of your smartphone, go to the app menu, open Google settings and then continue as I just explained to you.
If the above functions are active, you can remotely locate your smartphone (and control it) by connecting to the Android Device Management website and logging in with your Google account, or rather, the account set up on the phone. So wait for the smartphone to appear on the map and, if you want, control it remotely using one of the three available functions: Make it ring to make it ring, Block to lock it with a security code or Cancel to format it and erase all data contained in it. Be careful because by formatting the phone you will lose the ability to locate it remotely: use this feature only if you no longer have any hope of recovering it.
If you are unable to locate your smartphone by connecting to the Android Device Manager site, the device may be turned off or not connected to the Internet. Unfortunately, for the location to work correctly, the phone must be turned on, with the GPS active and connected to the Internet.
If, on the other hand, you don’t have a PC at hand, know that you can also use Android Device Manager from other Android smartphones and tablets by installing the appropriate app for portable devices.
As just mentioned, the included “standard” anti-theft service in Android works only if the smartphone is switched on, connected to the Internet and with GPS active: three conditions that are difficult to find if the smartphone has been stolen. This is where the alternative anti-theft applications which, by offering more advanced features, such as the control of the phone via SMS or the reactivation of the GPS in case of deactivation, increase the chances of finding your smartphone in case of theft or loss. Here are some of the most interesting currently available on the Play Store.
- Cerberus – one of the best anti-theft apps for Android. It allows you to locate your smartphone and control it remotely, enables you to control the device via SMS and includes advanced features such as re-activating the GPS, locking the Android shutdown screen, remotely taking photos and videos and much more. (some functions require root). You can try it for free for 7 days, after which it costs 5 euros per year.
- Android Lost – an excellent free anti-theft app that allows you to locate your phone remotely and also control it via SMS. It supports the realization of photos and videos remotely, the reactivation of the GPS and other very interesting functions, even if its compatibility is not 100% guaranteed on all devices.
- Wheres My Droid – freemium application that in its free version allows you to locate the phone remotely and to control it both via Web and via SMS.
I explained to you in more detail how to use anti-theft apps for Android in my tutorial on how to find Android – read it and you won’t regret it.
Even you iPhone have a free anti-theft feature: it’s called Find my iPhone and to take advantage of it, the phone must be switched on, connected to the Internet and with active location services.
To verify that the location services and “Find my iPhone” are active, go to settings of your iPhone (the gear icon found on the iOS home screen), go to Privacy> Location and, if it is not yet active, activate the lever relating to Location.
After that go to Settings> > iCloud> Find My iPhone (or Settings> iCloud> Find My iPhone if you are using an iOS version earlier than 10.3) and make sure it works Find my iPhone And Send last position are active. The “Send last position” function will allow you to find out the last known position of your “iPhone by” if the device is turned off.
Perfect: now all you have to do is connect to the iCloud website, log in to your Apple account (the same one configured on the iPhone) and select the icon Find iPhone from the page that opens. If prompted, then type your Apple ID password a second time, expand the menu All devices located at the top, select the name of yours iPhone from the latter and the phone will be displayed on the map of Apple Maps.
At this point, if you want, you can remotely control the iPhone by doing it make a sound, activating the lost mode (in order to lock it with a security code and to display a message on the lock screen) or initializing it. By choosing the latter option you will lose the ability to locate the phone in the future, so use it only in desperate cases.
If your iPhone is offline and therefore cannot be controlled remotely, you can only give it a lock or reset command and this, if it is turned back on and connected to the Internet, will enter lock mode or format. Unfortunately there are no alternative solutions such as on Android that allow you to control the device via SMS.
If you don’t have a computer nearby, you can remotely locate and control your iPhone using the Find My iPhone app for iOS.
If you have a Windows Phone and want to get the possibility to locate / control it remotely, access the menu of settings (the gear icon located on the home screen), go up Update & Security> Find My Phone if you use Windows 10 Mobile or on Position if you use Windows Phone 8.1 and activate the function Find my phone. If you want to know the last known position of the device in case of turning off the latter, also activate the voice Save my location periodically and before the battery runs out to find the phone easily.
Now you can locate and control your Windows Phone remotely by connecting to the Microsoft website, logging in with the Microsoft account configured on the device and clicking on the item Find my device located next to the name of the smartphone.
The commands that can be given are the “usual”, that is It rings to make it ring, Block to lock it with a security code e Cancel to format it (thus losing the ability to locate it in the future).
What to do if your smartphone is stolen
If your smartphone has been stolen, don’t just format it remotely. Contact your telephone operator immediately, ask for the SIM lock (so you can then request a new card keeping your number), file a theft report and request the blocking of the smartphone stolen on the national network by inhibiting the IMEI code. I know, these are a bit boring procedures, but they are a must. You can find everything explained in more detail in my tutorial on how to block stolen phone.
Mobile GPS Tracking App
Do you want to share your geographical position, or rather, that of your smartphone with a friend? Do you want to follow the movements of a friend (with his consent) so that he can meet you more easily? Then check out these mobile GPS tracker apps.
Find My Friends (iOS)
Find my friends is an Apple application designed for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch equipped with iOS 8 or later, thanks to which you can share your geographical location with friends (also equipped with iDevice) and vice versa . It is completely free and requires no special configuration. To use it, just select a friend’s email address and choose whether to share your location for one hour, until the end of the day or forever. For more details, see my guide on how to locate a friend’s iPhone in which I explained how the app works in more detail.
Facebook Messenger (Android / iOS / Windows Phone)
Maybe not everyone knows, but Facebook Messenger, the official Facebook chat application for Android, iOS and Windows Phone, allows you to share your geographical location with friends for a maximum period of 60 consecutive minutes.
To take advantage of this function, all you have to do is open Messenger, select the friend with whom you want to share your geographical position and first press the button (…) which is located at the bottom right, and then on the entry Position and finally on the button Share your current location which appears below. On iOS, instead of the button (…) there is the symbol (+), bottom left instead of bottom right.
Google Maps (Android / iOS)
Even the official application of Google Maps (Android and iOS) allows users to share their geographical location with other people, who of course must have a Google account and the Maps app installed on their device.
If you want to take advantage of this function, start Google Maps on your smartphone, press the button ≡ located at the top left and select the item Share location from the bar that appears on the side. Then press the button Start and choose whether to share your location for 1 hour or until deactivated (therefore forever). Finally choose the item Select people and choose the friends to be allowed to track your location via GPS.