The following tips will help you through the process of assessing potentially suitable family locator products or apps and will inevitably also offer some clues in deciding on the right mobile phones for the job.
>Mobile Phone Types
There are a range of monitoring technologies that can be used singly or put together to produce very different final results in terms of the precision of the locations provided.
Results can fluctuate from a metre or so for GPS (Satellite positioning) to a few kilometres for network based ‘GSM’ methods so this is a relevant choice.
If your loved ones already have mobiles then you will want to restrict the services under consideration to what functions with what you have.
If you don’t have phones already (or are happy to change them) then before dashing off to get new mobile phones use this article to make sure your device choice suits your location tracking wish list and then tune both choices to balance estimated expenses and overall requirements.
Cellphone tracking solutions often have various other non-tracking related features ‘included’ – many of which actually need a subscription.
For the purpose of this article we will stick with tracking related functions.
mobile locator systems provide locations in an assortment of ways:
1. Regular updates – fixed regular updates every ‘X’ minutes, 24/7. 2. Flexible regular updates – set your personal start & stop times and location intervals. 3. Polling only – locations are produced only when asked for specifically by you – e.g. pressing a button 4. Event based updates – location is prompted when the cell phone enters an allocated area
Journey history is an option that you might find useful – allowing you to see progress ‘so far’ and emphasizing any delays when your family members are travelling larger distances for example.
‘Geofences’ are in essence areas assigned by you that set off an alert should a tracked cell phone send an update whilst inside it. These can work well but need the location service (GPS as a good example) to be on full time to ensure that the trigger area is caught. (Be mindful of considerable battery drain here)
Balance the frequency of updates you would like with the effect on the phones’ battery as well as the cost of delivering the location details whether that is by text (out dated) or as mobile data. Most good systems will only use a few kilobytes each location but it’s worth pointing out.
>Free vs Paid
Check out any app store and you will find lots of mobile phone locator applications with free, paid and ‘freemium’ price tags.
‘Truly’ Free – these usually tend to be basic and developed by individuals rather than organizations but you may be lucky and uncover a product that is truly free forever and does what you need to do.
Warning: Free apps are often marketed as ‘free’ but often ‘lock’ features after a certain time and inevitably require payment for their continued operation at an effective level. Go through the reviews – this will quickly highlight this set-up!
Paid apps are widely via monthly subscription or ‘pay as you go’ format. Try working out the cost of using potential applications for your preferred location-update frequency for each phone on a monthly basis.
Freemium (free + premium) are free of charge apps that are promoted as having ‘base’ functions free of charge forever (that can often be all you need for 99 % of the time) with the ability to ‘upgrade’ to unlock premium features for a period of time via payment as and when required.
Note: ‘Pay as you go’ solutions commonly tend to be expensive if you think you may prefer more than a few updates per day and don’t normally offer a ‘history’ function.
Verify the developer:
Is the provider a bona fide organization or a ‘back bedroom’ developer?
What support is offered?
Are they insured should their app fry your cell phone, is your data secure etc?
One way to do a very quick check on this is to explore online via Google or similar and see if you can find their website – do a little digging basically.
Also it’s worth establishing whether the product is focused at your location – lots of apps target the U.S. with specific U.S. content. Where apps clearly target a particular location/country the features may not convert well for where you live.
Ensure that the user of a tracked mobile phone, regardless of their age or legal status, has a method of agreeing on a regular basis to being tracked – whether that be a text message that needs to be responded to or an ‘in-app’ feature.
Having read the preceding hints and tips you will no doubt have come to the conclusion that picking the right mobile tracking service for your family can be a complicated business.
The good news is that almost all of the reputable solutions have a free trial so you can use the tips in this article to remove the vast majority of products and then try out the one (s) that meets your initial requirements.
Rule of thumb is that if you can’t try it for free then don’t try it.
Chris is Managing Director of Panaramix Ltd, the provider of Kno-Where mobile tracking applications.
You can try out the product for free at http://www.phone-tracking.co.uk
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