learn to track

Plan B – Locating your phone AFTER it’s lost or stolen (Free)

Overall, Plan B is an awesome app to use if you need to find your phone after you’ve already lost it, or it has been stolen – if it is compatible with your device and carrier. The accuracy of its GPS location is top notch; it’s super easy to use, and can prove to be a lifesaver! The bad news is that it works only with a select number of Android phones and on a select number of carriers in the US; plus, if the thief turned off your phone and took the sim-card, there is no way you can track it with this app, actually no app can track it then.

If you’ve ever lost, or had your phone stolen, you know how difficult it can be to get it back. That’s assuming you ever do!

A new app is paving the way for Android phone tracking and location.

Introducing Plan B to Android Owners

Plan B was developed by the makers of Lookout Mobile Security. Plan B is still in its infancy stage, but has been launched as a beta app to the public to test drive.

Plan B is an amazing, free app designed to be downloaded after your phone has been lost or stolen.

Some Key Features:

  • Remote download/install after your phone has gone missing.
  • Easy to install and track down your phone.
  • Incredibly accurate

Remote Download and Install

As mentioned above, Plan B was designed so that even if you don’t have some sort of tracking app installed on your phone before it is lost or stolen, you can easily install it from the Google Play Store from your computer.

There are 2 easy steps to follow:

Log into the Google Play Store on your desktop computer using the email address linked to your lost/stolen phone. Search for Plan B, and install the app.

  1. Once installed, Plan B will automatically start to send you 1-9 emails with the location of your phone.
  2. After 10 minutes, if you need another, more recent update of your phone’s location, simply send a text message using a friend’s phone with the word “locate” to your lost/stolen phone. You will receive another email with a more recent location. Standard messaging rates apply.

Amazing Accuracy

Probably one of the best features of using Plan B, next to being able to install it after your phone has been lost, is how incredibly accurate it is when it locates your phone. With the help of GPS and using cell phone towers, Plan B can locate your phone within a few meters of where your phone is actually located. Some users have even commented on this saying that even their local police were shocked at how accurately it located the device!

Available Carriers

As stated in the “About Lookout Plan B’s” technical details, Plan B is only available on select carriers in the United States. Those carriers include:

  • Verizon
  • ŸT-mobile
  • Sprint
  • AT&T

The Not So Good News

Now, before I go into some of the negatives I have found with this app, keep in mind, Plan B is still a work in progress. The developers are still working hard to fix any bugs the app may have.

However, here are a few negative aspects that I have come across, as have some other users:

  1. Although on the Google Play Store, they state that the app requires Android 2.0 or higher and is compatible with my devices, after downloading the app on my Android 4.0 phone and tablet, I was not able to get it to work. After much searching, I found the Lookout Support website (support.lookout.com), where it states that Plan B will NOT work with the Android OS 3.2 (latest Honeycomb) and OS 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), as it includes “certain changes” that causes the app not to work at installation or via sending text message location requests.
  2. A notification appears in the notification bar when the app is downloaded or location email is sent. As you can probably guess, this can be a major problem if your phone has been stolen and you are trying to track your thief without them knowing. Unfortunately, because these two notifications do appear in your phone’s notification bar, that means whoever stole your phone will likely know it has been installed, and can easily uninstall it.
  3. In addition to the notification bar issue mentioned above, users have also mentioned that one fatal flaw is that this app does not include remote lock and wipe functions – which can prove vital when your phone has been stolen. However, once you do retrieve your phone, you can upgrade/install the Lookout Security & Antivirus (paid version) for only $2.99/month which includes remote lock and wipe.
  4. If you have a 3rd party SMS app installed, Plan B may not work.

Other concerns that Plan B users have mentioned, but quite frankly, are not necessarily the fault of the app or it’s developers are:

  1. If your phone is stolen, and the thief removes or changes the SIM card – Plan B cannot work. No SIM card means no Google email account synced to that phone, so you cannot receive emails of its location.
  2. Plan B cannot work if the phone has been turned off, the battery is dead, or there isn’t a network connection.
  3. Additionally, if the device you have Plan B installed on is a tablet, the SMS location option will not work. This is because the SMS location option must use a cell phone number to work, which tablets are not equipped with.

Donald Shull

Telecom and GPS tech. veteran.


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