Using phones to determine someone’s location has been around since the invention of the telephone. After all, if you called the landline of a certain location and someone answered the phone, you would know where they were. A parent could call their home from work and instantly know their child made it home from school as soon as they answered. Since landlines are slowly going the way of the dinosaur, using this method isn’t quite as viable as it used to be.
The invention of cell phones made it possible to call anyone at any time from any location. A kid could answer their cell phone and say they’re at home but secretly went to the mall or a friend’s house. You might think that level of freedom would make it harder to find someone. However, it’s actually made it much easier, thanks to the concept of localization.
What Is Localization?
Localization pinpoints a user's region and is why apps function in different languages around the world.
For example, TikTok is a Chinese social media company, so the original software was created to support the Chinese language. Not only does the Chinese language use different symbols than English, but it’s written in vertical columns and read from top to bottom. The concept of localization is why the American users of TikTok view the app in English.
In the modern world, localization is essential for efficient global communication. How much better would an app be that’s default setting is another language? While localization plays an important role in tracking phone locations, it’s merely the name of the technique. The reason that localization is possible is due to something called GPS tracking.
What Is GPS Tracking?
GPS is short for global position system, and it’s practically guaranteed that you’ve used it before. Navigational apps such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze, and MapQuest all use satellites to pinpoint the real-time location of your phone. By doing so, it can create an accurate route to whatever destination you’ve entered.
The same concept can be applied to tracking a package that’s being shipped, a work vehicle that’s out on a remote job, or the cell phone location of your child.
How Can You Track Another Phone?
Tracking another phone isn’t very difficult as long as you have access to it. Cell carriers and phone manufacturers know that people can lose their phones or have them stolen. Enabling location sharing on their device makes it much easier to recover their lost or stolen phones.
Unfortunately, there are also ways to track a phone that don’t require permission. It’s become a hot-button debate topic as there are times when cell phone tracking can land you in big trouble.
Before we get into how to prevent your phone from being tracked, let’s go over the different ways that you can track a phone:
Google Maps is the leading navigational app in the United States, and it’s not even remotely close. Despite being pre-installed on Android devices, Google Maps was downloaded nearly 25 million times in 2022. The second highest was Waze, with a little over nine million, and the third place barely broke 1.6 million downloads.
Anyone that’s looking to track an Android should start with Google Maps:
- Add your Gmail account information or Google Contact on the target phone.
- Open the Google Maps app.
- Click on the profile located at the top right of the screen.
- Select the “Location Sharing” feature followed by “New Share.”
- Choose your Google contact information from the list and select “Share.”
- Set the duration for “Until You Turn This Off” so location sharing is permanent.
Find My Device
Another option for Android users is to use the Find My Device app. The primary purpose of Google Maps is to help people navigate travel efficiently. While it can be an effective way to track a phone, it’s not the foremost goal of the app. To keep close tabs on an Android phone, it might be better to use Google’s Find My Device instead.
- Download the Find My Device from the Google Play Store onto the target phone.
- Launch the app and enable the location tracking feature.
- Open the FindMyDevice website on your personal device.
- Enter the Gmail account information or Google Contact of the target phone into the search bar.
- You should be able to pinpoint the exact location as long as the phone is turned on and is connected to the internet (either via Wi-Fi or mobile data).
Find My iPhone
Obviously, phone tracking isn’t an exclusive perk for Android users. You don’t have to buy a new phone and set up a Google account to track it. For iPhone users, it’s actually much easier as the tracking apps usually come pre-installed on iOS devices. You can use location tracking for most Apple devices. This includes iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Macs.
- Open the Find My iPhone on the target phone and select the “Settings” option.
- Tap the “Choose Your Account” followed by “Share My Location.”
- Once enabled, now you’ll need to visit iCloud and sign in.
- Go to the “Find My iPhone” option and click “All Devices.”
- Select the device that you want to locate, and it will appear on a map.
- If it doesn’t appear, then it should have the word “Offline” underneath.
Find My Friends
Apple is always innovating its tech and updating its operating system. If you have a phone using iOS 13 or later, then you’ll have access to the superior Find My iPhone free app.
For phones using iOS 9 through 12, you’ll need to use the Find My Friends app instead.
- Open the Find My Friends app on the target device.
- Select the “Start Sharing Location” at the bottom.
- Click on the plus icon and enter the information for your phone.
- Press the “Send” option, and be sure to select “Share Indefinitely.”
Every phone has a unique 15-digit number that’s known as the International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI for short. The number can be used to help track stolen or lost phones. Some apps track IMEI numbers, or you can give them to your service provider and ask them to locate them.
Here is how you can learn the IMEI number:
- Open the “Settings” app on the target phone.
- Click on the “General” option followed by “About.”
- You should be able to find the IMEI here, but it might require additional steps with older phones.
- If you can’t find it, dial #06# on your Phone app, and it should display the IMEI number for the device.
There are a few apps specifically created to help parents keep tabs on their kids. Apps such as SPYERA or Localize can help track a phone just as well as anything offered by Android or Apple. Additionally, these apps provide much more information about the phone, providing more control for parents.
The main issue with using these apps is they require monthly subscriptions that can get very pricey. SPYERA, for example, has monthly plans that range from $49 to $479. Localize is a little cheaper as the monthly plans usually range around $50 per month. If you just want to locate a phone, then these options aren’t worth the money.
If you’re looking for more than just location information, then here is how you can install both:
- SPYERA. Purchase the app license from the SPYERA website. Download and install the app on the target phone. Open the SPYERA app on your phone to start tracking.
- Localize. Enter the phone number of the target phone into the Localize website. The software will send a link via text message to the target phone. When they open the link, Localize will start tracking, and you’ll be given up-to-date information about their location.
Tracking phones is fairly simple as long as you have access to the target phone. It’s a feature that’s typically used by parents who are concerned about the whereabouts of their kids. Enabling GPS location sharing is an excellent way for people to know the exact location of loved ones and family members. The problem is when someone can track your location when you haven’t given their permission.
There is a lot to be concerned with in terms of data safety. Information privacy is getting more and more difficult to maintain. Hackers, spammers, and cybercriminals depend on learning as much about you as possible. Knowing your current location is one of the key pieces of information that they seek. Using GPS satellites to pinpoint your exact location can be very beneficial for them.
Security in the Digital Age
One of the best ways to avoid them tracking you is by using a fake number. After all, how can you pinpoint something that doesn’t actually exist? Using a second phone number can help to keep your personal number private.
Should the second mobile number fall into the wrong hands, then they can’t trace your live location or learn anything about you. It’s a wild goose chase that ends with their frustration and your security. No one should be able to track someone without them knowing.
Visit Burner today to learn more about how it works and start your free seven-day trial. You can download the app, choose your second cell phone number, and experience all the perks of being off the radar. You’ll be untraceable as long as you use your Burner and stay several steps ahead of anyone trying to track you.
How to find the IMEI number on your Android device in 2 different ways | Business Insider
What Apps Come with the iPhone | Tech Junkie
Most popular navigation apps in the U.S. 2022 | Statista
How to find a lost mobile phone | Digital Trends
GPS satellite over the Earth | The Global Positioning System
What is Localization? | Techopedia
Phasing Out Landlines Could Spell Trouble For Seniors and Businesses Both Big and Small | Dallas Observer