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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lost your Android phone? Find it with the free "Where's my Droid?" phone app!

Last time, I wrote about Siri alternatives for your Android phone. This time, I want to talk about security for your investment. That is, keeping track of exactly where your phone is and how to find it should you lose it or it happens to "walk away" in someone else's pocket.

Dude- Where's my Droid?
Turns out, there are many options for finding and recovering your baby, but as I did the research I kept finding users were referring again and again to a certain app for the Android phone that helped them to retrieve their phone from all manner of places and, failing that, they were able to wipe the lost phone's memory of potentially expensive data (credit card numbers, addesses, etc.) contained within the device.

Called "Where's my Droid?", this free app sits quietly hidden on your phone until needed. There are a couple of scenarios available that would make this app invaluable:

- One reviewer stated she couldn't find her phone anywhere in her house although she knew it wasn't stolen or seriously lost as she had just used it a few hours before- she had simply misplaced it somewhere nearby, but searching the usual areas turned up nothing and she had set it to silent so calling the device did no good. She went on the Where's my Droid? website, entered her phone number and "told" the phone via text commands to start ringing at it highest volume. The app turned the ringer back on to "loud" and started to sound off. She soon found it under some dirty socks in the laundryroom.

- Another reviewer left his on the roof of his car and drove off. After arriving home, he remembered, much to his horror, what he had done. He went on the website, told the phone to locate itself (he texted "GPS my droid") and within seconds, the phone responded with a Google map of its current location 15 miles away. He drove to that address and found the phone on the side of the road, a little scratched, but still working.

- One particulary relieved user said she had only purchased her Android phone that afternoon and had promptly lost it two hours later. She had no information on the phone at all and had installed no apps either (not even the Where's my Droid? app). She was devastated. But a friend simply went to the WMD? website, gave the WMD? site her friend's cell number and installed the app remotely from her house. They were then able to see the phone was at a restaurant she had visited that evening. They locked the phone remotely and sent a message to be displayed on the screen with her friend's cell number and a request to call. The restaurant did (the busboy found it under a table) and they were able to pick up the phone within a few minutes.

Did I mention this app was free? Also, despite the name, the app works with almost all Android phones. It also has the amazing ability to track its location even if someone steals it and replaces your sim card with an entirely different one. You can also lock the theif out of the phone and demand, via the now locked screen, that your phone be returned.

Or, just call the cops and enjoy a little justice Android style.

Find the Where's my Droid? site here and download the app at the Andoid Market app store located here where more than 68,000 reviewers rated it the best app of its kind. Lifehacker also reviewed the app at their website here.

Now, where did I put that phone...?  While I look, enjoy this video demonstration via

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Apple Siri not in your phone? SIx Siri-ous alternatives for your Android.

"Call Allison Miller!"
Siri, the voice command app on the Apple iPhone4S, has become one of the most talked about tech subjects for 2011. And for good reason- it seems that Siri can understand simple, casual conversation and doesn't require awkward, precise language to work properly. For those people who actually own an iPhone4S, Siri seems to be an ideal program that can make their life much easier.

But for the other half of the phone buying public, there is no Siri. But, all is not lost as the free market has many competitors for Siri's absence from the Android marketplace (sorry Windows Phone!) . To be honest, at this point, most of the "same-as-Siri" apps for the Android world aren't. They can do most of what Siri can, but may not do it a elegantly or cleanly. But, you can be sure that the developers are working hard to bring their products up to snuff.

One of the stories the press seems to have missed in this Siri love-fest is the fact that Android has had a voice-command system in their phones long before Siri became the media darling of the tech world. Voice Actions does much of what Siri can do, but not all. It's standard in all Android 2.2+ versions of Android and can, simply because you asked it to, look up websites, call phone numbers or send e-mails and more.

There are other apps from 3rd party developers that, to a greater or lesser degree, emulates Siri. Most are free (with ads) or cost just a couple of dollars in your favorite Android app store. The website has a list of five Android based Siri alternatives you might consider along with an explanation of each. It' surprising how different each offering can be and what each can and can't do. Go to the site here to see the article.

There is another newcomer on the scene called "Iris" (that's Siri spelled backwards). It was created in eight hours after Siri hit the streets and is being constantly improved with new, better versions every few days. It has real potential, but is still in its infancy, tech-wise. To learn more, read the article at, a slightly geek-centered website. I know I'll be keeping tabs on Iris.  

If you really want something as powerful and sophisticated as Siri. You have two choices: One, buy an iPhone4S or simply wait about 90 more days. As I said, developers are putting in some late nights to make sure their voice-control offering perform so much better than Siri and three months will produce far better versions than exist today. But, if they're free anyway, why not get one and play with it until then?

From the looks (sounds?) of it, 2012 appears to be an interesting and fun year for apps like this.

Stay tuned.