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Because the mobile phone has become an indispensable accessory in the life of modern people, its loss becomes a very big problem. Fortunately, modern mobile phones are equipped with GPS receivers and can be easily located, regardless of whether they use an iOS, Android or even Windows Phone operating system. Before the advent of GPS, there is only one method available for locating the mobile phone, namely triangulation of the signal by techniques used by authorities or government agencies.

What is and how GPS works

Global Positioning System, shortened GPS, is a global satellite navigation system, intended to provide 3D location data for GPS receivers on Earth, from the network of over 24 satellites in orbit. The satellites were initially used for military applications, but from the 1980s, they could also be used by civilians. At the moment, GPS is available to all and is free, the mode of operation is very simple. The satellites that surround the planet send information on Earth, GPS receivers receiving information and calculating the exact location of the tracked device, comparing the moment the signal was transmitted by satellite, with the moment when the receiver receives that signal. Using this difference from multiple satellites, the GPS receiver can determine the position of the receiver with a high degree of accuracy, displaying it on the map.

GPS receivers are very precise, determining the position of the device with an error of ten meters or even less, this being influenced by several factors, and one of them being the weather condition.

How GPS can be used to locate a mobile phone

Most smart phones are equipped with GPS receivers. Because most smartphones know their location at any time of day, the mobile phone tracking task is almost complete. Location applications only need to communicate this position via Wi-Fi, SMS or data connections.

For example, iPhone phones, among the most popular on the market at the moment, can be quickly and easily located thanks to the GPS system, through the Find my iPhone application, made available to users by Apple in the App Store. Locating a lost phone involves a minimum of effort, including the introduction of a Apple ID and password in a browser. The position of the phone will be immediately displayed on the map, and if the phone is turned off, the last location of the phone will appear.

A phone with Android operating system can be located using the Android Device Manager service, if the user has a Google account. It will be necessary to connect from a PC to the Google account, open the Android Device Manager, and the phone will be located on the map.

Last but not least, the location of a Windows operating system smart phone can be located if it has previously been associated with a Microsoft account. Find My Phone will locate the last position of the smartphone on the map.

Most commonly used GPS tracking software

For phones with iOS operating system, the Find My Phone application has proven to be very efficient over time for locating the lost device, to protect the data. This application also has an additional function, Lost Mode, which allows the phone to be locked using a password, displaying the personalized message directly on the screen. At the same time, this program will help the user to see the history of the places where the phone arrived, directly in the application.

Other efficient applications for locating GPS phones that run on the iOS operating system are Gadget Track and Fone Home, which transmit the location of the phone in real time and enable the activation of an alarm to simplify its finding. For phones with GPS and Android operating system, there is the Android Device Manager program that can be used for free with your Google account and allows you to locate your phone or tablet on the map. Where's my Droid application is the first application for locating lost or stolen phones with Android operating system.

For phones with Windows operating system, the Find My Phone application mentioned above is the main and the most important option that users have for finding the device.

Unforeseen situations regarding the location of the phone by GPS

After locating the phone with the help of GPS tracking applications, it is advisable for people to notify the authorities, so that the procedures for recovering the phone are started. If the phone is located nearby, for example in the home or in the car and it has not been lost, it is definitely not recommended to report the theft to the police.

There are also situations where the phone can no longer be located, even if it has a GPS system. For example, when the GPS signal disappears or the Internet connection is interrupted, if the battery is discharged, the phone shuts down, then the operation of finding the phone by GPS is much more difficult.

One of the simplest ways to locate your phone, however, is to use Google Latitude. Even when the phone is stolen, Google Lattitude can be used from any device, be it tablet, phone or PC to see the exact route the phone has traveled. Another important thing to keep in mind is that this method works as long as the person who came in possession of the phone does not delete cookies and browsing history from the browser or does not completely reset the phone.

In conclusion, finding a lost or stolen mobile phone is no longer such a challenge for homeowners. Those who have the habit of losing their phone often, of losing it in the car, of forgetting it on the counter of the shop where they go shopping or simply getting it out of their pocket, must consider installing programs to offer they have the option of locating it faster and easier, through the GPS system. Thanks to the new technological developments of the last years, now it is much easier to locate the phones with the help of GPS, as well as with the IMEI code.