Dec 31, 2010

Find My...Family

With iOS 4.2 for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, Apple made the Find My iPhone service free. The obvious benefit from this is that if you lose your iPhone, you can log into MobileMe (using your free, limited-to-this-one-feature MobileMe account) and your iPhone will be shown on a Google Map. From there you can have it display a message if someone finds it or, if it's nearby, have it continuously play a sound while you search for it. But this is all stuff you may already know. What really makes it more useful on a day-to-day basis is what else you can use it for.
Disclaimer: The following assumes you have a healthy relationship with your family, not one involving dishonesty and sneakiness. If that's not the case, seek counsel and read no further.
Finding Your Family

We are a family with multiple iPhones and iPod Touches.  If you have multiple iDevices, like we do, the Find My iPhone feature is really useful, especially for the carriers of an iPhone.1 Since we carry our iPhones wherever we go, we can use the Find My iPhone feature to find each other.  For example, once when meeting my wife for lunch, I was first to the restaurant. I hated to call her or text her to ask where she is when she is driving because then I would have been creating a distraction from her driving. So, I pulled out my iPhone 4, opened the free Find My iPhone app, and was able to see where she was on the drive to the restaurant. In an emergency, this would be invaluable.

Getting in Touch When Ringer is Off

Another benefit of the Find My iPhone service is that you can make the iPhone play a sound even and display a message (like "Call me", for example) even when the ringer is off. My teenager carries an iPhone but it's not uncommon for her to have turned the ringtone off for school or church and forgotten to turn it back on. In an emergency, I can use the Find My iPhone feature to send her a message to call me. It will play up to two minutes or until she turns it off.

How to Set It Up

Setting it up is fairly easy but needs to be done fore each device. Apple has a simple set of directions for setting up Find My iPhone, including pictures.  One caveat is important here. The usefulness of this depends on you using one MobileMe account for all the devices you want to use this on. If you use one iTunes account for all your devices, which I highly recommend, this will probably not be a big deal to you.

1 The Find My iPhone feature is less useful for locating someone who has an iPod Touch (and the non-3G iPad) because the iPod Touch needs to be connected to a wifi access point to be located.

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