It’s happened to the best of us, that brief moment of panic when our phone is not in sight — nor in our pockets. I know I can’t be the only one who’s left their phone on a Target shelf or Starbucks counter, right?
Luckily, both Apple and Google have GPS software for iPhones and Androids that makes finding a device easy. Here’s how you can set up and use the platforms’ respective location-tracking services to retrace your steps and, hopefully, find that lost phone. Also, read on for some alternative third-party apps that are just as effective and available for both operating systems.
How to GPS track your iPhone
If you have an iPhone, here’s how to find and track your device using Apple’s built-in “Find My” GPS tool.
How to GPS track your Android phone
Similar to Apple’s Find My, Google’s Find My Device is the key to finding an Android smartphone. I’ve listed below two methods: one that can be used for all Android devices and a bonus service that’s specific to Samsung.
Alternative tracking apps for iOS and Android
Aside from Apple and Google’s own GPS-tracking services, here are a few apps that let you track your’s and your loved ones’ phones.
Google Family Link is a free parental controls app that works for Android and Apple devices, with tools to set and regulate electronic habits among family members’ devices. Most importantly, once you download the app from the Google Play or Apple App Store, you can easily share locations using the “tap to share” feature.
iSharing, despite the Apple-esque branding, is another free GPS app that works for tracking both Apple and Android phones. I’d recommend using this app if you want to track your family members’ phones in real-time or receive alerts when their devices arrive and leave from a destination.
Life360 is perhaps the most popular third-party tracking app. With the free version, you can manage both iOS and Android users in your “circle” with both live tracking and two days’ worth of location history data. The app can also show how fast someone in your circle is driving and employs crash detection when necessary. If you’re a concerned parent and want more than just location data, Life360 is a great option.
Can I track a phone for free?
Yes, both Apple and Android phones have built-in “Find My” services that let you track phones that have been linked to your cloud account. There are also free apps that allow you to track other people’s devices, given they’ve permitted you to first.
How do I track an Android phone?
To find our own Android phone, Google’s Find My Devices is the best option. Just be sure your location-sharing settings are toggled on and you’re logged into your Google account on both devices. If you’re looking for someone else’s Android phone, they have to be sharing their location with you via Google Maps or a third-party app.
What’s the best GPS tracker for phones?
Apple and Android’s built-in “Find My” services are great, basic options. For functionality beyond location tracking, I’d recommend Life360 or Google Family Link.