Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Yo Phone, Where You At? | A Simple SMS Based Find-My-Phone Solution

Weeks ago we were at dinner and I reached for my phone only to realize it wasn't in my bag. I had the usual stream of thoughts: it's probably at home. But what if it's not at home? What if it's lying in the parking lot, or otherwise lost? I could have logged into my Google Account on Shira's phone and used its find my phone feature to track down the device. But that would have been a significant disruption to dinner. I made a mental note to solve this problem later and hoped the device would be waiting for me when I got home. Fortunately, it was.

Then, a couple weeks later on on Reddit's /r/tasker I came across this post: Is there any way to text my location? Someone left a comment linking to a Where Are You task. Curious, I installed this task and was impressed: with one click I had installed an action that translated my current location into human readable form.

All that was left to do was to wire this task into an Event: Received Text Profile and I had a simple find-my-phone solution that would have put me at ease in the restaurant. For my first attempt at capturing Received Texts I made use of a Flash alert. This didn't work. Opting to write to a file instead of flashing text on the screen did work, as did my auto-text reply. I'm not sure why flashing text on the screen on this particular event fails, but I ultimately didn't need this for my solution.

The last piece of the puzzle is the credit card size backup phone I carry in my man-bag. The phone has basic text and call abilities and not much more.

Next time I find myself wondering where my phone is, I can bust out my backup phone and text myself LOC. If all goes well, a few seconds later I'll get a response from my phone with its current location. As a bonus, I've added Shira's phone number to the list of allowed numbers. So if she's sitting next to me, I don't even need to dig out my backup phone but can text from her device.

You can grab the code for this solution here, or recreate it using the screenshots below.

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