Finding that your cell phone was been stolen can be a gut-wrenching experience. It is your connection to the world and all of a sudden it is ripped from your life, falling into the hands of a complete stranger. Questions have to be racing through your mind at this point. Can I get it back? Can I keep my data private? What will happen to all my pictures?
Thankfully, we live in a world that has more to it than those who seek to steal mobile phones. We also have innovators who create applications for cell phones that keep our personal data safe and track down a stolen phone. A group of these good guys have created an app called Lookout Mobile Security and it is currently free to download on BlackBerry, Android, and Windows Mobile smartphones. It does more than just use GPS tracking to find a stolen cell phone. It is a full ledge smartphone security suite that will let you protect your phone from physical and virtual threats.
How can I track my stolen cell phone?
Smartphones are an investment. If you buy one without a free upgrade deal or sign-up promotion it can cost hundreds of dollars. High end phones range between $500-$600 before the contracts and promotions bring the price down to (just) $200. Quite frankly, it does not matter what price you buy at – any smartphone is going to be a really expensive phone. Until the cell phone boom it was not normal for people to carry such an expensive piece of hardware with them everywhere, especially one that is so easily lost or stolen. When it gets stolen you want to find a way to get it back, now.
GPS tracking provides the solution for a lot of people who want to get their stolen cell phone back. By leveraging the smartphone’s location finding capabilities and the data plan that is almost assuredly included with the phone, users of the Lookout Mobile Security app will be able to find the location of their cell phone (provided that it is on, of course).
Now this brings up one of the three HUGE caveats that need to be understood about tracking a stolen cell phone. The first is that you must have already downloaded the GPS tracking app before the phone is stolen. In other words, the cell phone must still be in your possession when you put the app on it. You cannot download any apps that will let you track your stolen mobile remotely. Sorry, but that is just the way that it is.UPDATE: Android phones CAN install certain apps remotely that will let you track down a lost or stolen phone. You can find a write up we did here: How To Install GPS Tracking Apps Remotely To Find A Lost Or Stolen Android Cell Phone
The second caveat is that the cell phone must be turned on for the Lookout Mobile Security app or any other stolen phone recovery app to work. The phone needs to be on for several reasons. The first is that it needs to be able to receive the message from the Lookout servers to get the phone to use its GPS chip to determine the cell phone’s location. This is the same with all stolen cell phone recovery programs. Mobile Me, Lookout, et al work this way.
The second reason the phone must be on is that it power is required to use the cell phone towers and/or GPS chip to figure out where the phone is. A phone that is unable to find its own location is of no use to someone trying to find out where it is!
The third caveat is that the phone must be in range of a cell tower. In order to track the phone, it must in contact with the network to receive messages and to communicate with you, the owner. Both reception and transmission of messages is hindered if the phone is outside the boundary of its network or has some physical impediment to cell signals. Without the network you are screwed.
But given that the phone is on, it is in network range, and you have already downloaded the tracking app, how helpful will one of these apps truly be? Can it provide an exact location for a lost phone?
Precision depends on several important factors. Sometimes a location will be very good, reliably providing an exact address for the location of your phone. Other times it simply be a reasonable guess, one just good enough to give you a general idea where the phone might be.
Here is picture taken from the web interface of a GPS tracking app that will be illustrative of just how exact tracking can be:
If you have good eyes you will see that the circle around the phone is fairly large. It says it has an accuracy of 1,870 meters, or a little over 1 mile. The center of the circle, represented by a cell phone icon, is a pretty accurate representation of where my phone is, being off my perhaps several hundred feet.
This underscores the point that with GPS tracking apps you have little knowledge beforehand about how accurate the location is going to be. There are too many factors that can cause GPS errors. For example, my home is of an older, more solid construction than newer homes might be. I have had great difficulty getting a solid GPS fix for my location on several different devices. I may measure my location one day and get one set of coordinates only to measure it again the next day and get coordinates hundreds of feet away from previous measurements. While this is not good for tracking down a lost cell phone with GPS, it is reality.
In addition to the make up of the place where the cell phone has been taken you also have to consider other aspects of location that may come into play. Large surrounding buildings, lots of trees, canyon walls, and other inhospitable terrain features can cause GPS tracking equipment to give inaccurate readings. These can skew the position information just as wildly as the composition of the home.
You should not let these factors prevent you from downloading an app that will help you recover your stolen cell phone. You have no way of knowing who is going to steal it or where they are going to take it. For all you know, you could get an almost exact location for the cell phone, like in this picture:
My phone was in the same exact place when I used Lookout to find its location previously (see pic above this one to see the difference). I went from getting a location somewhere within a mile of the place they put my phone to being within 26 feet. That is a very great difference and it just goes to show how tricky GPS tracking can be for any device – let alone a cell phone.
But this location is really spot on. I live exactly where the tracking app puts me. Checking the location of a lost or stolen phone more than once is a good idea!
How can I get back my stolen cell phone?
Now that you have figured out the location of your phone there are a couple of things that you can do to get your cell phone back. The first, wisest and easiest is to call the police. If you were the victim of a mugging or other assault the police will probably be more than happy to use your information to find the criminal. They will want to get the crook off the street, especially since they were willing to be violent over something as simple as a cell phone. They also have an eye witness (you!) that can place the suspect at the scene, sealing the case for them and getting another criminal off the streets. There are several news stories circulating the press that confirm this.
Another thing that you could do to get your cell phone back is confront the thief and get them to give you your cell phone back. Just don’t pull an OJ and do it at gun point. You’ll probably go to prison yourself for being a total idiot. Instead, make it safe and do it in a public place. This also only really works if it is stolen by somebody that you know. Using shame and public confrontation is a great way to get the phone back once you know who stole it.
How can I wipe the data on my stolen cell phone?
Let’s say that you have tried to recover your phone but the thief is refusing to hand over the good. Maybe it was taken over the border by a drug runner and now lies in drug-cartel-infested territory and your value your life more than your cell phone. Fine, be a wuss. You still don’t have to let the thief know who are your emergency contacts. You can still stop them from seeing all those awesome photos you took last night at the bar. You can still keep your personal data personal.
Applications like Lookout Mobile Security allow users to wipe cell phone data clean. All personal information will be discretely thrown overboard with concrete shoes on, never to be seen again. Bad guys can’t steal your contact information or learn how to target you for future crimes from your cell phone. The wipe feature does cost a monthly subscription fee – but I can imagine only using it for one month, the month your cell phone was stolen in.
If you can’t get your stolen cell phone back with GPS tracking then at least you can wipe it clean.
Can I mess with the person who stole my cell phone?
One of the really cool things about the Lookout app is that you can make your phone scream. It is a great way to prove that you are the owner of the phone in those public confrontations or to help the police find the phone after they raid the location where your phone is.
A simple command from the app’s web interface and you can turn your phone into a screaming, vibrating, and flashing nightmare for the unsuspecting crook. This was originally designed to help users find a lost cell phone, but it really would be a great trick to play on a crook.
Stolen Cell Phone GPS Tracking Apps
Here is a list of some tracking apps that are designed to help you recover your lost or stolen cell phone:
If you found this post useful, feel free to share it with your friends so that they don’t have to worry about their cell phone if it gets stolen. Always having a tracking app on hand is a good way to make sure they can retrieve their phone. You can help them by:
If you have a cell phone then there is a good chance that you can find some way to track it for free. There are dozens of apps across all sorts of platforms that are going to enable you to either track your own cell phone remotely or give you the opportunity to share your location with friends and family in a social way. Some of these apps will have built in lost cell phone detection while others will not. Still more will make it easy for you to view the location of your cell phone or your friend’s phone through some sort of online interface. All this has made free GPS cell phone tracking a reality that more and more people are taking advantage of as they seek to get the most out of their mobile devices. Are you one of them?
In this article we hope to outline how this technology works by giving a brief overview of GPS tracking technology, cell phones, and how they work together. Then we will go into some of the various free GPS cell phone trackers that are available for some of the major cell phone platforms. These will include the Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Windows cell phone operating systems. This will be followed by a discussion of the various multi-platform trackers. Finally, we will look at the future of free cell phone tracking and see what the future will hold for us.
The essentials of GPS cell phone tracking are really quite simple. There is a built in GPS receiver in the cell phone which is able to get the phones exact location from the satellites that orbit the globe. Through a simple mathematical principle called trilateration the computer on the cell phone is able to take the data gathered from the signals of three different Global Positioning System Satellites (GPS) and turn that into information that includes the latitude and longitude of the phone.
In order for this data to be used to be able to track the cell phone there has to be some way for the cell phone to tell other people – other devices, really – where it is. This is where the cell phone comes into play. It is obvious that cell phones transmit data, though we probably never really think about it like that very much. They send out the digital signal that encases your voice when making a phone call. Now 3G networks can transmit lots of other digital data as well. This data can include text (SMS) messages, emails, videos, webpages, files, and a whole lot more. Most free trackers essentially use SMS messaging to transmit the latitude and longitude data that the GPS has calculated over the cell phone network to turn these devices into GPS tracking machines. The cell phone can now act as either a real time GPS tracker or just a simple data logger depending on the specific app and what the person wants to do with the information.
A cell phone has arguably become the most powerful GPS tracking device on in the world.
This is certainly a valid question. For the privilege of having a data plan that enables the cell phone to act as a GPS tracker you generally have to pay some sort of fee to your cell phone carrier. In my case (Verizon unlimited plan) this is going to cost you an extra $30 a month. For AT&T it will run you an extra $25 a month, but this plan in not unlimited any more. Sprint’s unlimited data plan costs you $20. T-Mobile has an unlimited data plan that also runs $30 a month.
These are definitely not free – but when you are already using these data plans for other things like streaming Youtube videos, checking Twitter, or surfing the web then adding a GPS tracking app to the mix is not really increasing your cost more for something you are already paying for. So in this way it really is free, but only if you are spending a good chunk of change on your cell phone already. Here is a really cool graphic from Billshrink.com that says it all:
Now lets take a look at exactly what free GPS cell phone trackers are out there for you depending on what operating system you use.
Free Android Cell Phone Trackers
Android is one of the main players in the smart phone wars that are raging right now. The child of Google, Android is an OS that is making it into many of the best phones on the market right now. It is powerful, open source operating system that often comes with free and powerful GPS apps on it when you buy it. These include Google Maps, Google Latitude, and Google Navigate – all of which are great uses of GPS by themselves. For some people, they don’t even need to get another free GPS cell phone tracker. But for those that do, here are some of the best trackers for everything from recording a sporting activity to recovering a lost cell phone to tracking a boyfriend:
Lookout Mobile Security
More than just a GPS cell phone tracker tracker, Lookout Mobile Security is a multi-platform security system for your mobile phone. It features a malware and spyware detection system that will help you determine what apps you should be downloading to your phone and what apps you are going to be leaving on the way side. It even helps you manage your various apps so that you can make sure that your private data remains private.
This feature by itself is incredibly useful, but when it is combined with GPS tracking, data backup, remote log in, and data wipe you really do have a complete security system for your phone. What is most interesting is the way that all the systems work together in sync. For example, imagine that you have lost your cell phone. Big bummer. But never fear, Look Out Mobile Security is here. Simply go to the website and find out exactly where your phone is using the GPS built into your phone. Is it in your house somewhere? Great – you’ve already looked everywhere but can’t find it. Use Lookout Mobile Security to make your cell phone scream! Even in silent mode, activating this command will turn your cell phone into a loud siren that will definitely uncover your cell phone.
This is a great app with lots of visibility. You might have even seen the commercial:
Pintail is a very interesting app. Download it to your phone an you automatically have a GPS tracker for a cell phone that you can use to pinpoint the location of a lost or stolen cell phone. Simply send a text message (SMS) to your cell phone and you will be sent a message that will require you to enter a pin code to view the location information of phone. Once you have entered this data you can know where your cell phone is. Simple and easy.
It can also be used as a way to stay in touch with family or friends. Just give them your pin code and they can text the phone to find out where you are too. This can be a great way for friends to meet up or for a loved one to check in and see where you are at if you are on a really long drive traveling by truck across country.
Everything is pin protected so you can change who has access to your location simply by changing your pin. Did you give your pin to a girl that you are now broken up with? Fear that she is stalking you? Simply change your pin and she will not be able to stalk you anymore. Like I said, simple and easy.
Billed as a family tracking app for Android cell phones, the Eye app is another one of those GPS tracking apps that uses the GPS in your phone to turn it into a mobile tracking device that will make your position known to all your friends – much like Google Latitude and other social tracking applications.
The app uses Google Maps technology to give you the position of your contacts in real time on maps that utilize images taken from satellites in order to give you a graphic understanding of where they are. You can also use the basic map interface too if all that green makes you go bonkers.
They also claim that adding contacts is easy and will work off of your existing contact list. If you want your latest BFF to know where you are at all times just them then an invitation to join the Eye App and you will be well on your way to sharing your location with your friend. They can even use Street View to get a better grip on the house where the party is at!
The Eye app also features bread crumbing, allowing watchful parents to track the movements of their children over the course of the day – something that a lot of other social GPS tracking apps fail to do. Bread crumbing is important because it helps you verify the story of a troubled teen or locate a missing child. Either way, its a useful feature and kudos for the people at the The Eye for including it in this tracking app.
Free iPhone Cell Phone Trackers
iPhones are cool. iPhones are hip. Let’s be honest – iPhones are some of the coolest, most user friendly phones on the market. They appeal to almost every age range and almost every demographic. Often simple to use and surprising versatile these phones have made a huge splash on the cell phone market. Once they introduced a GPS tracking chip, the iPhone became a useful tracking device for those savvy enough to take advantage of this excellent addition to this mobile device. Several generations later, the iPhone is definitely a competitive choice for anyone trying to find a smart cell phone that is going to fit into their lifestyle. Here are some of the free tracking apps available for the iPhone:
Are you self employed or a business owner? Do you use your car regularly for work related activity in a capacity that would enable you to deduct this expense from your tax return? If you answered yes to both these questions then you should seriously consider getting automilez. This free cell phone tracker is designed to help people such as these easily track their mileage so that they can maximize every deduction possible come tax time.
Apparently, even regular Joe’s like you and me can use an app like this to log our mileage for deductions at the end of the year. Medical and moving trips we can deduct $0.165 a mile. For charitable trips we can deduct $0.14 a mile. I guess you learn something new everyday.
While it is obvious that this app has a limited roll as a free tracker it is useful. Just be warned that you are not going to be able to share your current position with anyone or recover a lost cell phone with this app.
GPS-Logger is simple GPS tracker created by iMasterofDesaster that is designed for travelers that have a digital camera in tow that does not currently have a GPS built in to it. The way it works is simple. The iPhone acts as the GPS by going through the process of trilateration and stores the position data with a time stamp on it. During the trip the digital camera takes photos and then time stamps those photos. The GPS-Logger software then does some fancy code work and places a GPS stamp on the photos by taking the nearest time stamped location from the GPS and slapping it on the photo.
This seems to be pretty standard fare for travel GPS data loggers. Another example of this type of technology is the i-Gotu GT-600. But that device is not a mobile phone, it is just a stand alone personal GPS tracker.
GPS Tracker from Instamapper
Instamapper is one of the most powerful and free GPS cell phone tracking apps out on the market. They only ask that your register an account using a valid email address. For this pittance, you get to turn your cell phone into a real-time GPS tracking device at no extra cost to you. The phone will periodically send its position to the Instamapper services which makes 30 days worth of tracking information available to its users. This amount of tracking is equivalent to nearly 100,000 specific locations for a single device.
User’s can share their data with a loved one by sending out a link to a map of their data hosted on the Instamapper website. This link can go either to a computer or to another mobile device. If users feel really safe about sharing their position information with the world, they can even embed a map on a website, a blog, or even Facebook.
An embedded map looks something like this (from Facebook):
While it probably is not the best idea in the world to share your position on Facebook – especially if you are a teenage girl – it is pretty cool that you could do this if you wanted/needed to.
This tracking app even has position buffering so if you hit a dead zone in your coverage the phone can store up to 100 waypoints so that the track log can be brought up to speed once you get back inside your cell phone carrier’s network. Of course 100 way points is not very long (over 8 minutes at one waypoint every 5 seconds), but it will help in those odd dead zones that line urban, semi-urban, and semi-country areas.
Overall, this is a very powerful real time GPS tracking app that can be used in a wide variety of applications by many different people.
Waze is a tracking application built for the iPhone with a very specific purpose. Let’s just say it isn’t for tracking your girlfriend. 🙂 The folks at Waze have done an excellent job of creating a video that explains exactly what this product is all about. Instead of talking about it too much, here is the video:
For those that could not see the video, Waze is essentially a real time tracking community with a purpose. That purpose is to provide the very best real time traffic data for Waze users. This is not a sport tracker. It is not a data logger. It is not even a social tracking app. Its only purpose is to get people around in as little time as possible.
With that being said, it relies solely on the efforts of its users to make the app work. Users build the map, report traffic congestion, and share traffic related material with other users. If you have a small or nonexistent community in your local this free GPS cell phone tracking app is probably not going to do you much good no matter how cool it looks.
Free BlackBerry Cell Phone Trackers
BlackBerry has been the name in work cell phone for the past several years. Their physical keyboard and secure email have made them a household name in the world of business. You almost never hear a business person ask, “Where is my cell phone?” They talk about their BlackBerry like it was the only type of cell phone that exists in the world. As a result of this business customer base, free GPS tracking applications for the BlackBerry are much harder to come by. After all, isn’t it easier to justify spending a little of the business’ money to buy a tracking app than it is to justify spending some your own money to buy it? Despite this, there is an impressive number of free apps designed for BlackBerry users:
BlipPlus is an application created for use on BlackBerry smartphones and is designed as a social tracking application for those with GPS enabled phones.
They have a feature on the app called Share Your Where that enables you to broadcast your location to anyone within your social network as defined by the app. There are all sorts of benefits that can be gleaned by using this sort of application. You can meet with your friends with greater ease. You don’t even have to tell them where you are, just say look up my location using Google Maps or something like that. It can even be used to stay in sync with work associates who need to know when you are speaking with a certain client, etc. Families also benefit because knowing where the whole family is can increase safety, make things more efficient, and give everyone some peace of mind.
BlipPlus offer assistance by letting others choose how and when to contact you based upon you location data that you share with them. Efficiency is key when it comes to location information and this free cell phone tracker will help friends, family, and co-workers be exactly that.
GPSLogger is a essentially just that – a GPS logging application for the BlackBerry. It will record such information as your elevation, speed, and location over time. All of these are essential components to all personal tracking devices and applications, making ideal for people who like to record hikes, adventures, or trips in the car (for business or pleasure).
This free app will also let you use previously recorded or manually entered way-points as a way to remember where a parked car is or to point out an interesting Geocache. They call it the “Guide Me Home” feature and this is pretty standard fare for almost every data logging GPS tracker that has an interface on the tracking device itself. You can even use it to remember where a sweat restaurant is or the place you meet a beautiful woman.
Because all GPS loggers can be used as a sports tracker as well, the developers of this app have added a lap timer element to it as well, making this a full featured, if predictable, position logging app.
GPS Trackdown is a social tracking app that with a slight twist. If you choose to share your location with your Trackdown compatriots then you also have the ability to find get directions to their exact location. Did they move form the spot they were at five minutes ago? Just update their location and the turn-by-turn directions update as well. Pretty cool.
Other than that it is pretty standard location based search with ads that make the developers some nice coin. You can search for pizza, ATMs, hotels, and more with no real need to tell a search engine where you are since all searches already know your current location. This is generally useful, but can get pretty annoying sometimes if you ask me.
Another interesting thing about this is that you can only share your location by text, email, or tweet. No link posting on websites like Facebook or MySpace. This is certainly okay, but some people may find this a little off setting.
And, of course, this GPS cell phone tracking is free – which makes it way better than if you had to pay to use it.
WhereAreYou GPS Tracking
WhereAreYou is the tracking app for all those people who want to secretly track the cell phone of a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or child. It runs “silently” in the background with no way for the person being tracking to tell that something is on their phone broadcasting the location to the person that set it up.
The app is really easy to install and get going. Simply:
Download Silent GPS from BlackBerry App World to the mobile phone that you are trying to secretly track
The app will automatically install itself, asking you to create an account that you can log in on the web and see the phone’s location
The app will run silently in the background, tracking the cell phone and telling you where it is when you log into the web account
The app will track things silently – this means that no user interaction or application icon is going to visible at all on the BlackBerry. This means that you can track secretly without them knowing. You just have to get the phone and do the installation for them.
Tracking is also very easy with this app. Just:
Go to p46.qitlabs.com and enter user/password that you created when installing the program on the phone
There you will see a map with the mobile’s location clearly marked for you to see
There you can also set up tracking intervals to keep the life of the battery so the person you are tracking doesn’t know what is going on – conserving their battery life is key hereY
This app certainly has applications in the business world, but it also can be used by private citizens to track a teenager or to catch a cheating spouse. Before you start tracking someone, please check to make sure that it would be legal in your area to do so.
GPS Fox Hunt
GPS Fox Hunt is definitely an interesting take on the free GPS cell phone tracking app. It takes a cell phone’s ability to track itself and share that information with other cell phones and turns it into a game where each phone becomes a piece in a game. Social tracking has simply been taken to one of the many different possibilities available to it.
The game essentially is a version of hide and seek. There is one phone that is it – this is the fox. All other players in the game are trying to find the one phone that is it. They get to see how far away from you they are which can be useful because they can tell if they are heading in the right direction or not.
This game would be fun to play inside a shopping mall or some other public place with lots of people to “hide” among. It could also be fun out in the wilderness somewhere too – but you have to have connection with your cell phone tower for that.
Here is a video from the game creator that explains the game well enough:
While the idea is interesting and exciting this particular app doesn’t seem to have the favor of users on the BlackBerry Appworld website. It only has a few reviews and has only been around for a few months, so this is likely to change given that new releases of free products and have some kinks that need to be ironed out. But in all this is a pretty cool idea for an app and I hope that things work out for the developer and it makes it big.
Free Windows Cell Phone Trackers
It seems really strange to be including Windows Mobile phones in this list of free cell phone tracking apps, but here it is. Windows Mobile is certainly trying to keep pace with the likes of iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. With the release of Windows Mobile 7 they may be on the right track to getting back into the fray, but it could also be too little too late to be a major player. I doubt that Windows will ever go away completely, they just probably won’t be the market giants that they are on PC. That will almost certainly go to either Android or iPhone – but perhaps I am too young to see the usefulness of Windows.
Unfortunately, we could not use the Windows App Store to find any free GPS cell phone tracking apps. If you have any suggestions please use the contact form linked to at the bottom of this post to alert us to some of the Windows Mobile apps available.
Free Multi-Platform Cell Phone Trackers
Multi-platform cell phone trackers recognize that the best way to reach the most customers is to have a product that can be used by the most people, irregardless of the cell phone that they use on a day to day basis. This makes these free trackers particularly interesting because they open up the world of social tracking to users of all stripes and styles. The iPhone user can track their BlackBerry business friend just as easily as they can other iPhone users. They bring everyone together and make tracking everyone can engage in. While these multi-platform trackers are often anything but perfect and often favor social aspects of tracking over secret or covert tracking they are still extremely powerful in any number of functions not specifically endorsed by the programs creators. Here are some of the best free multi-platform GPS cell phone trackers:
GPS Tracker from Instamapper
This is a powerful GPS tracking application for cell phones that is available on lots of platforms. Right now, it is available on Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry phones (we talked about it under the iPhone section). There are some restrictions for BlackBerry phones – like it doesn’t work on Verizon, lame.
But by far the coolest thing about the Instamapper software is that it works on Boost Mobile phones. You can buy a really cheap iDen phone for under $50 and then get a data plan that could run you around $0.35 a day. Hard wire the sucker to the battery of your car and you have a real time GPS cell phone tracking system for your car. This works great for teen drivers, cheating spouses, and theft prevention. They even have instructions on how to do it all on their website.
Instamapper is definitely the way to go for a DIY, free GPS cell phone tracking solution.
We talked about this one under the iPhone heading, but it is another one of those apps that is designed to be used by lots of other cell phone operating system. It works on iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, and Symbian mobile phones. They have even made an effort to get this application on the BlackBerry by just releasing an app for this cell phone brand that is still in Beta. As a result it really on works on the Bold 9700, Curve 8900, Bold 9000, and Tour 9360.
You won’t get the world with this app as it really is only designed to use GPS tracking to create excellent, real time traffic data and it relies exclusively on the efforts of its users to make the app work. But it really is a great concept and it might just work as planned if not overshadowed by Google Navigate which tries to do the same thing. Who knows, maybe Waze will get bought out by the internet giant before all is said and done.
Google Latitude is one of the premier social tracking apps available right now. There are a few different reasons for this. The first is that it is created by Google. Google already has a huge user base for everything that it does. Maps and Navigate a huge apps that work of the same framework as Latitude and already have a huge buy in from lots of mobile phone users. Their free cell phone tracker is certainly going to benefit from this market position.
The app is also available on a huge number of platforms. We didn’t even include it in one of the mobile phone operating system categories because it is available on Android, iPhone (and iPad), BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Symbian S60, and most Sony Ericsson devices. Because it is available on so many different platforms it is widely used – boasting 9 million users. That is more than any other GPS tracking app by far.
There are some significant weaknesses to the whole Latitude idea. For example, all tracking is constant and done in the background. While this is great for families or other close knit groups it really doesn’t work to well with friends, work buddies, or acquaintances. There is also not much to actually DO with Latitude other than broadcast your location and see where other people are at. Great for families and possibly for business, but not that fun otherwise.
This app has a strong base and could be something great. Possibly.
Lookout Mobile Security
We learned about Lookout Mobile Security with the rest of the free Android GPS cell phone trackers, but it is available on Windows phones and the BlackBerry. This is a very powerful app for the security conscious and should be downloaded without the slightest bit of hesitation. There is a difference between the free app and the pay app, so don’t expect the moon. You still get a lot with the free app, its just not the whole shooting match.
This make sense because the company has to make some money on it, but with 2 million users in 170 countries you have to expect that at least some of them are paying the 2.99 for the premium service. If just 30% are paying customer then the folks behind the app are making nearly $2 million a month. Wowza. That is a lot of money.
A run of the mill social tracking application I am not sure why you would use this app unless you have lots of friends who are already using it. It was mentioned under our BlackBerry section but it is also available on the iPhone.
The Future of Free GPS Cell Phone Tracking
Where are all these free cell phone trackers pointing? I think that what all this is leading up to is a world where location based information is going to be widely available and consumed by consumer and business alike. People are already beginning to share their location more with each other and businesses are starting to use location based targeting in ads they deliver to customers. Companies like Google, Palm, and others are poised to make lots of money if this type of advertising is going to be as effective as some think it will be. Coarse location based targeting is already available on the web and seems to be fairly effective at reaching the intended audience. It is only a matter of time before it becomes the main way to deliver ads to consumers.
There are also increasing concerns about cell phone tracking in the legal world. Who can track whom? In what contexts is this tracking legal and in what contexts is it illegal? When does tracking become stalking? All these questions are beginning to be answered in the courts and this will have an impact on how this technology is going to be used going forward. I can imagine one case making mobile phone tracking too dangerous for any company to touch is a ten foot pole, but we shall see how all this plays out.
For now anyway, GPS cell phone trackers are going to on the rise as more and more people realize that these can be extremely useful applications that will enhance the usefulness of their phones and make their lives more interesting. They can also let their users know information that would have otherwise not have been available to them. Cell phone tracking is too powerful a technology for people to ignore.
Have a free GPS cell phone tracker or know of a great one that we didn’t include? Let us know about it through our suggestion form. We’d love to hear about more free content for our users.
If you are prospective home buyer or a real estate agent who wants to get on the fly, real time house price data then you might want to check out Smarter Agent, a GPS tracking application for real estate prices on your cell phone. There are several products that Smarter Agent offers that couples the power of GPS position data with the public record information that would be very useful for home buyers and real estate agents alike. It appears that the application has both free and paid components, letting you give the service a shot before you upgrade to one of the different paid services.
Free Real Estate GPS Tracking Services
From what I can tell from the website and my own playing around, you can get the Homes For Sale cell phone application for free from their website. This software will turn your GPS-enabled cell phone into a powerful home finding tool. All you need to do is install the software onto your phone and then take it with you to the neighborhood that you would like to buy a home in. With just the press of a single button you will have a map display of your location and the location of the 10 nearest homes for sale around you. Users can zoom the map in or zoom the map out so they can get a tighter or wider view of the listing and surrounding area. If you want to see more information about the home then just scroll to and take a look.
If you would prefer to see things as a list, this free GPS cell phone application lets you you do just that. It lets you see the top 10 properties that are the closest to the exact location where you are standing according to the cell’s GPS tracking chip. The list view allows you to view property details, plot results on a map, save your search, or expand it to see additional properties in your vicinity. There is even the ability to save your search if you thought that the listings were particularly important to your home search.
Smarter Agent’s Homes For Sale also displays some detailed information about each listing if you want to give that a look. You can see such things at the house’s address, the sale price, the number of beds and bathrooms, the square footage of the home, the estimated mortgage given certain parameters like interest rate and down payment, and the taxes that the home owner pays when that information is available. This information can be huge for those that are just getting acquainted with an area and want find out where some of the houses for sale are located.
In all, this is a great way for people looking for a solid GPS real estate application to get their feet wet for free.
Paid Real Estate GPS Tracking Services
The main reason that Smarter Agent is offering their Homes for Sale application for free is that they are hoping that people will buy their premium product, Recently Sold Homes. For $4.99 a month you can have access to information about the closest homes sold within the last three years. The information available from this GPS application includes the last sold price for homes nearby, the last sold date, and the square footage of the home sold. As you can imagine, this can be very helpful information for getting an understanding of how competitively prices some of the current homes for sale are.
While this information is not going to be incredibly precise, it is still helpful for those that are new to a region to get an idea of what is going on in a region’s real estate market. If you are just starting out with a real estate search then you might want to consider getting your GPS tracking cell phone out and installing Homes For Sale. If you like the way it works and are particularly interested in homes in a certain area then you might want to buy the Recently Sold Homes application as well. The $4.99 might save you some considerable time in your searches.
Compatible Sprint GPS Cell Phones
Homes for Sale is available on the following Sprint mobile phones:
Blackberry Curve 8300
Blackberry 8800 World Phone
LG LX 550 Fusic
LG LX570 Muziq
Motorola KRZR K1m
Motorola RAZR V3m
Motorola SLVR L7c
Motorola RAZR2 V9m
Samsung M620 UPSTAGE
Sanyo 6600 Katana
Sanyo 6650 Katana 2
Sanyo 8500 Katana DLX
Compatible AT&T GPS Cell Phones
Homes for Sale is available on the following Sprint mobile phones:
Blackberry 8100 Pearl
Blackberry 8300 Curve
Blackberry 8800 World Phone
Blackberry 9000 Bold
LG CU575 Trax
LG CU720 Shine
Motorola SLVR L6
Motorola SLVR L7
Motorola RAZR V3
Motorola RAZR2 V9
GPS tracking is becoming more and more important for cell phone users as more and more applications are becoming available that allow users interact with the world around them in such a way that they get what they want, when they want it, and where they want to get it. We are becoming a mobile society, GPS and cell phone technology are giving use everything we could every want when it comes to have relevant, location-based information in real time.
We love cell phones. They can do anything … well, almost anything. For golf lovers, they now provide a way for users to turn these every day devices into golf GPS systems.
Over the past decade the place of the cell phone has become more and more prominent. Just 10 years ago they were still fairly rare. Today, it is crazy not to have one. They have become the repository of our entire social lives, holding all our personal information in their small but powerful computers. Cell phones now interact with nearly every aspect of what we do on a daily basis. Cell phone applications are making various things obsolete – day planners, watches, alarm clocks, phone number memorization, navigation GPS, digital cameras, MP3 players, and golf GPS.
Very soon, cell phones are going to be the only piece of electronica that we are going to need – ever.
As far as golf GPS systems for cell phone go, there are two main routes that people can go. They could choose to use some free software or they can go the paid route. As we all know there are pros and cons to going with either solution. Paid services cost money while often making things really easy for users and often have very rich feature sets. Free services are free but generally take a little more work to get running properly and generally have less features than a paid counterpart. This is some gross generalization and isn’t always the case in every situation, but you get the general idea.
The rest of this article follows this division between free and paid golf GPS systems for cell phones.
Free Golf GPS Systems for Cell Phones
Did you say free? Getting our GPS golf tracking software for free is certainly better than having to pay for it out of your own pocket. Some golf systems for cell phones not only cost money, but they also have an annual fee! Here is a list of some of the free golf GPS systems for cell phones currently available:
This is a golf GPS that gives you the basics for your cell phone. No more. No Less. In its free version (yes, there is a paid upgrade version) you get to know the distance from where you are at to the front, center, and back of each green on supported courses. As far as supported courses go, Free Caddie offers a pretty good selection in terms of the number of courses available for use. If they don’t have your specific course on file, you can always make one using their course creator. The course creator is available in both the free and the paid version of Free Caddie.
Right now, this golf GPS tracking system is available on a wide range of phones including Windows Mobile Smartphones, the iPhone, Blackberry phones, and Java enables phones. There are plans on adding it to the Palm Pre, but who would want to do that after their privacy invading cell phone tracking software.
This free application is from the same makers of the GolfLogix GPS-8, a Garmin golf GPS system. GolfLogix is a free golf tracking software that is designed for Blackberry. It also has a iPhone version, but it is mostly used for the various Blackberry versions. It is currently supported on:
In terms of course coverage, it appears that this golf GPS system has a few more courses than the other free application listed above. With over 24,000 golf courses mapped this is bound to have the course you regularly play. Unfortunately, it does not appear to have a way for users to build their own course files. This is a feature that most definitely needs to be added to this GPS tracking system if it is to reach its full potential.
Also, by limiting the phones that can use this software the folks at GolfLogix have really narrowed their market considerably. If you are a traveling business man or woman who likes to play golf then this is probably going to be the service for you, but if you don’t have a BlackBerry then you are out of luck.
To be honest, Green Finder is a way over priced. Right now it costs $35 per year. When you consider that it only has 10,000 courses that is a ridiculously high price. I would avoid Green Finder unless it is the only golf GPS software that works for your cell phone.
Like some of the free versions, it is compatible with BlackBerry, iPhone 3G, Android, and phones that run Windows Mobile. It also has a software in the workd for Palm Pre.
This paid service is definitely not a cheap golf GPS system, coming in at just under €35 ($50), but this is a lifetime price. This already makes it cheaper than Green Finder. Also, you get a lot of features with iGolfScorer that you just don’t get with other golf GPS applications. Some of the features include:
On the course scoring
Side games for betting
Shot distribution and tracking
Email your scorecard feature
And free web analysis
This is certainly a very full featured golf GPS system. The only problem that American users are going to find with this software is that it is heavily weighted toward European users. We find this first in the phones compatible with the software. There are just a handful of phones – all of which are made by Sonny Ericsson or Nokia. This means that the most popular GPS enabled cell phones on the American market won’t even run the software. Also, the course that the software supports is heavily weighted toward European users. Of the 2,000 courses on iGolfScorer only 260 are US courses. Chances are, your home course isn’t going to be one of them.
Most American’s won’t be able to use this software, but it make a great European golf GPS system for cell phones.
The last golf GPS tracking system that we are going to look is IntelliGolf. It currently runs just under $40 and looks to be a pretty solid golf GPS features wise. There is an additional upgrade that costs you $30 and allows you to do a host of things with the data you collect on your cell phone – like make printouts of your statistics and grants you the ability to interact with other IntelliGolf user data. I probably wouldn’t get the upgrade since this type of data isn’t that useful to me in my own golf game, but some users will really like this type of information.
When it comes to compatible cell phones, IntelliGolf is compatible with the following phones:
Palm OS or Treo
Nokia Series 60
IntelliGolf also boast having course data on over 25,000 courses – the largest of any software package on the list. It also has a very robust feature list, including:
Score cards for up to 5 golfers
Tracks shot statistics
Automatically keeps track of side games
Lets you recall past course statistics for players
The website for this product is a little cheesy, and could be updated to give the system more credibility to first time users. But aside from that, this seems like a fairly useful golf GPS system for your cell phone.
If you can, go with a free golf GPS system. If you don’t like it, you can always remove it and not worry about all the money that you just wasted on the software. If you love it and find yourself craving even more features then you can take a look at some of the paid systems out there. But until you give a test drive using a free service I think you should stay away from paying if you can. Even if you really like a friends version of one of the systems it is always best to take a look at the golf GPS system on your own before making a purchase that you might come to regret at some point in the future.
Knowing where you are at at any given moment on a golf course can be huge for your game. Today, you can know the distance from ball to hole with a simple simple handheld device – a golf GPS tracking device. This can be a stand along GPS, like the Garmin golf GPS Approach G5, or it could a mobile phone that has one of the golf GPS software upgrades installed on it. Either way, you are going to get some important improvement for your golf game by being able to make an appropriate club selection for your next stroke.
Handheld Golf GPS Units
There are several stand alone golf GPS units out on the market today. These units are small enough to fit comfortably inside the pocket of your pants and can certainly fit inside your golf bag to be pulled out at a time convenient for you. Here are several different GPS models designed specifically with golfers in mind:
Golf GPS Review: Garmin Approach G5
The Garmin Approach G5 is the cream of the crop in terms of personal golf GPS tracking units. The case is durable so it can jostled around a bit in your golf bag. It also is waterproof, so if you accidentally throw your golf clubs into the drink you won’t have to worry about destroying your investment (but we don’t recommend throwing anything into the water – its is just bad form). This GPS has a touch screen and comes preloaded with thousands of golf courses preloaded on the device. This device uses some of the latest GPS receiver technology to give golfers of all skill levels personalized and accurate distances to help users improve their club selection and their scores.
One of the great parts about the Approach G5 is that you get to look at the golf course you are on with a lot of detail. And since you can know your position on the course to within a couple of yards thanks to this Garmin’s high-powered GPS tracking receiver you can make full use of this detail. You don’t need to eye a hole and think that it is 100 yards away – you can get the full power of a constellation of 20+ global positioning satellites to give you your location in real time. This means that you can use the Approach at your buddies ball and then at your own in a matter of minutes without you both having to buy one of these devices.
The Approach G5 also will let you touch a spot on the course map so that you can get a picture of how far away your next shot is. If there is a bend in the hole that you want to get to but you don’t have the skills to bend your shot so that you can safely land in the fairway with every shot you simple touch the point you want your ball to land and pick the appropriate club for the task. You won’t have to guess anymore and your game will be more about being able to hit the ball well instead of about how well you judge distances.
If you are serious about keeping your game above board you don’t have to worry about breaking one of the USGA rules about golf GPS units – the Approach G5 meets all the golf GPS tracking rules that this organization has set.
One of the cool features that the Approach G5 has is that is can act as a digital score card for your foursome golf party. Keeping track of one of those pencils and score cards can be a real pain, especially if you are walking the course. You want every second of your time out on the greens to be about making the next shot, not about where you put that pencil.
Golf GPS Review: GolfLogix GPS
A little lower down the chain of quality golf GPS units is the GolfLogix GPS. This device is also made by Garmin, but doesn’t offer the awesome eye candy and functionality that the G5 does. It is still a very solid GPS for golf enthusiasts and comes at a significantly lower price than the G5.
This GPS will recognize the course that you are playing on automatically and will give you distances from the front, middle and back of the greens. It is light weight (5.3 oz) and incredibly durable. If you are thinking about getting a stand alone GPS tracking device for your golfing needs this is certainly going to be one that you have to at least consider.
It doesn’t provide the touch screen capabilities of the G5, but for users who just want to know distances to the green this unit will do just fine. It is one of the most well known golf course GPS units on the market today and comes with great support from the GolfLogix.
Golf GPS Tracking Applications For Mobile Phones
But if getting a dedicated golf GPS systems is not up your alley then you might want to consider turning your smart phone into one. We have already listed several different free GPS tracking software packages that let you turn your smart phone into a GPS tracking machine, but there is also a golf GPS program that can be downloaded for free as well.
If you have an iPhone or a Blackberry and want to us it as a golf GPS you should head over to the GolfLogix website. In addition to being the operators of the dedicated golf GPS unit mentioned above, they also offer free GPS applications for the iPhone and Blackberry mobile phones. This means that in addition to being able to install a regular GPS tracking software on your phone to let you know where you are or to let your loved ones know where you are you can also use it a golf GPS. In fact, you can even use your iPhone or Blackberry for both GPS functions at the same time!
If you are in the market for a golf GPS range finder but you don’t want to fork out hundreds of dollars and already have a smartphone then then you might want to consider getting one of these free applications. I don’t even think you need a good data plan for it because it doesn’t send data out of the phone like a normal GPS tracking application might. All you are doing is using your mobile phone’s computer to use the GPS information gathered from your phone to run against the mapping software produced by GolfLogix.
If you have any experience with any of the golf GPS tracking solutions let us know about it in the comments below.
You can get GPS tracking for free. There are a couple of different ways to get real-time tracking for your family, friends, or co-workers, but the vast majority of them have something to do with cell phones. Below is a list of several different free GPS tracking services that you can take a look at and decide which one is going to work best for you and your family. Not all these free applications are available on all mobile devices, so be sure to look at the specific application’s compatible device list to see if your cell phone can run this free GPS tracking software.
InstaMapper – Cell Phone Tracking Made Simple
InstaMapper is a free cell phone tracking application available for download and installation on a cell phone. Getting an account is free and only takes a minute or two (be sure to have a valid email address ready for the registration process). After registering you will install an application on your cell phone that is going to provide all the tracking data. This application, when running, will periodically send the phone’s GPS coordinates to InstaMapper servers where they will compile the data for your own use.
Once your GPS coordinates are there, you can login to your account and see your location on an interactive Google map. This can be great for finding your way around a new place or figuring out exactly how to get someplace (this does require that your cell phone have internet access). Also, if you want your family or friends to know where you are you can give them the login credentials to your account or you can embed a map of your location on a web property (such as a web page, blog, or Facebook profile). Alternatively, you could send them a link that will take them to a map on the InstaMapper website that will look like this.
This free application also lets you record 100,000 locations per mobile phone, organizing them into different tracks and exported in a variety of formats. This volume of locations is equivalent to several months of 24/7 tracking! Now that is a lot from a completely free GPS tracking application.
This is a very powerful application for anyone looking to let other know about their position in the world. Here is a list of compatible phones for this application.
If you are interested in this option, you should really consider looking at to get one of the many Boost Mobile cell phones that are compatible with these devices. According to the InstaMapper website, data plans can run as little as $0.35 per day, which comes out to around $11 per month, making it one of the most economical GPS tracking devices ever – and with an anticipated battery life of 8-12 hours this has many different potential uses for people and for companies.
If you are going be using this cell phone GPS tracking to monitor a teen driver, to check up on a cheating spouse, to monitor workers while they operate company vehicles, or just to get a better picture of where you have been or are at in the world then InstaMapper should be a very strong candidate for your GPS tracking needs.
3dtracking – Bringing GPS Tracking To PDAs
3dtracking is another application that can be downloaded for cell phones that can provide real-time GPS tracking, but unlike the InstaMapper application this is also available on a range of PDAs. For devices that are compatible with this software see their list of compatible devices.
Being an application compatible with PDAs, it lets you integrate a GPS device that you already own (like an automobile navigation unit like a Garmin Nuvi 760) with a web-enabled or cell phone PDA. This can be extremely useful for those that already own these devices and who want to take advantage of one of the many free GPS tracking apps out there.
Here is a mock-up combination of devices from the 3dtracking website:
A possible example of a set-up for using 3dtracking is a Windows Pocket PC device (such as an Ipaq) that is used with a GPS receiver (Bluetooth or wired). The application will obtain the GPS data from the receiver and then transmit it back to our servers (if your device is both a phone and a PDA (e.g. the i-Mate/Qtek range of products) then it can connect via GPRS. If not, you can transmit all your data to our servers when you sync your PDA to your computer). Once on our servers, you can log in at any time to see your traveled route on either Google Earth or Google Maps. Just select your starting date and time, as well as your end date and time, and our systems will show you exactly where traveled and your speeds along the way.
You can make this data available to other people in a similar fashion to InstaMapper: you can give someone the login credentials to your account or you can put a map on a web property that you own. However, it does appear that in order to put your map up on a website you must be able to edit information in the <head> html section of the webpage. This is not possible on websites like Facebook, MySpace, or WordPress.com. It is possible on Blogger, a self hosted WordPress blog, or a static html page that you might create.
In the end, this is an adequate system if you already have one of the devices mentioned on the list – but if you are just starting out and don’t own a device yet you might want to give InstaMapper a shot if you want to share your position data with someone else.
Mologogo – A Free Social Cell Phone Tracking GPS
Mologogo is like the Facebook of free GPS tracking applications for cell phones. You can access the location of yourself or your friends from your phone or the web, giving you a quick picture of where everyone is at any given moment of the day. This is great for people who are constantly on the go and love to keep their friends close. You can get alerts when people on your friends list are close to you, or you can search to see if your friends are around a certain point of interest (like the club you are at), and stay updated with local weather and traffic conditions all from the same screen. Mologogo also lets its users engage in mobile chat, so you don’t need to burn up text messages if you don’t have an unlimited plan but want to have a quick conversation with a friend in your area.
Mologogo also lets you interact with all this data from a PC. You can get a picture of where your friends are at at that very moment, you can add new friends to your account, and you can even show your location on your own webpage or blog (just like InstaMapper and 3dtracking). Your ability to engage with others via your position information with this free cell phone tracking application is pretty phenomenal and offers something that neither of the two previously mentioned applications are able to provide as easily. This is definitely the most social of all the GPS tracking apps I have seen.
If you want to know if your phone is compatible with this application then you should take a look at the following compatible phone list. What this list essentially includes is any Nextel, Sprint, or Boost Mobile phones that is able to support Java and also has a GPS receiver installed. Mologogo is also able to be used on Blackberries, Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phones, and SmartPhones on any mobile provider as long as there is an external or internal GPS with the device.
The social aspect of Mologogo is really the best thing about it. If you want to use your cell phone as a GPS tracking device for the purpose of connecting with your friends then there is no better application on the market. But it does lack some of the useful features that make InstaMapper such a good application for a wide range of applications. You simply cannot go wrong with Mologogo if you just want to stay connected to your friends.
LiveTracker – A Blackberry GPS Tracking App In Beta
LiveTracker is currently in beta development and is only available for Blackberry devices. It is still free, so users of the Blackberry should definitely consider using this free software on their phones. One main perk is that you don’t need to register an account to use this software – all you do is download the software from the SkyLab website and install it on your phone. Start running the application and it will begin recording and sending your location coordinates that it gathered via GPS to the LiveTracker servers.
The ability to share locations with this app is still a little limited – you can only send tracking links via EMail, PIN, SMS, and MMS. You cannot currently embed your location like you can with all the other free GPS tracking applications already mentioned. While this is not that big of a deal for some users, embedding is very important to some users. However, since this software is still in beta you have to realize that these are probably features that the developers are planning on implementing at some point.
If you use a Blackberry you still might want to check this out if you are just trying to dabble in what cell phone GPS can provide. It might not be as cool, powerful, or full featured as InstaMapper, 3dtracking, or Mologogo – but just because it isn’t now doesn’t mean that one day it might be the best app out there.
GeoTrack24 – Free (Limited) GPS Tracking For Phones and Devices
GeoTrack24 offers a free GPS tracking service, but the “free-ness” of this service is rather limited. A free account will allow you to track one device, allow 1 person to be able to view this data, and has a history of 3 days. There appears to be no way to share data with others, making it very hard to use this service for very much. What does make this service unique is that it can be used on a wide range of devices – both cell phones and various GPS tracking devices. For a full list of compatible devices see their cell phone list and units list.
Because you can use some GPS tracking devices with this service it is something that you might want to consider using, but the limited device history and 1 account makes it severely limited in what it can do. They do offer some subscription based plans that are relatively inexpensive (rates are quoted in Pounds), but when you can get a similar, but better, service for free on a cell phone from another software package then you should probably consider this service last on your list.
If you just want to do some minimal free GPS cell phone tracking then this software is probably going to be good enough for you. However, you should definitely consider some of the other applications mentioned here since they offer a higher quality service.
OpenGTS is a free GPS tracking software that is commercial grade. Its main application is to be used in GPS fleet tracking, but it could be used to help a family monitor the activity of several people or vehicles at the same exact time. This free software also differs greatly from some of the other applications mentioned above in that it is a server side tracking software – meaning that it is not installed on any device but is instead installed on a computer. OpenGTS acts like the captain of your GPS tracking device, taking in the information that the device transmits via GPRS.
GolfLogix – Free GPS Tracking Software For Golf Enthusiasts
If you are in the market for a free golf GPS tracking software then you have to check out GolfLogix. They offer a a free golf GPS application for iPhones and Blackberries. They don’t currently have a free app for all the different styles of Blackberry, so head on over to their site at GolfLogix to see if your particular flavor is able to run their software. If you are a Verizon customer, you might be out of luck since this carrier is notorious for not letting people install third party applications on their Blackberries.
If you are looking to get free GPS tracking then you are probably going to be looking to the cell phone. The number of free and useful applications available on these devices makes it a very compelling pick for those interested in getting GPS information in real time to a wide range of interested parties.
Do you have any experience with these free GPS cell phone tracking applications? We would love to hear about them in the comments section below.