David Molnar over at Ephermata had a great idea. His girlfriend was moving from Chicago to California, and he thought “Hey, let’s track her stuff as the movers take it cross-country.” He did it using a $99 iPhone and the “Find My iPhone” service included with Apple’s Mobile Me, and it worked really well. So well, in fact, that he discovered that it’s possible to track anyone using their own iPhone, and doing so is pretty trivial.
The set-up couldn’t have been easier. Molnar went down to Best Buy and picked up an $99 iPhone (it was $99 because he was not previously an iPhone customer – this was his first iPhone purchase, and it was specifically for this purpose).
He also bought an external battery pack, which extended the “up” time of the iPhone to allow it to remain on, and transmitting, during the entire move. Some battery extenders claim to offer up to 750 hours of standby time.
All that was left to do was sign up for Apple’s Mobile Me service, which he was able to do after purchasing the iPhone. Mobile Me is Apple’s ISP-like service that allows you to sync all of your Apple devices, and push email to your iPhone, and, yes, track your iPhone.
Molnar’s plan worked really well, and by slipping the battery-packed iPhone into one of his girlfriend’s moving boxes, they were able to track the movers all the way across the country (despite a few glitches with the Mobile Me site going down).
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In the process Molnar discovered something else. He discovered not only that, if you know (or can find) someone’s Mobile Me password, and they have “Find my iPhone” enabled on their phone, you can track them through their Mobile Me account, but he also discovered that you can have any iPhone report its location to you directly if you can just get your hands on it for a few minutes.
All you have to do is go into their settings and add your own Mobile Me account to their list of accounts and, as Molnar explains, “The key here is that when you click “Update Location” for an iPhone, the phone itself shows no indication that it is reporting its location to MobileMe. No sound plays, no message pops up, nothing like that. At least, nothing happens on my iPhone 3G with 3.0. This means your friend won’t realize the iPhone is reporting its location to you. Now, of course, if you use MobileMe’s “pop up a message” feature, or heaven forbid, Remote Wipe, your friend will notice! The basic location update, however, appears to be silent.”
The take-away here? If you have an iPhone, check to be sure that you don’t have “Find my iPhone” enabled, or, if you must have it enabled, be sure to check every so often to see to where it’s reporting.
|No Paywall Here! The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?|
No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free? Thank you!
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