Android Phone Finder Update

A few years ago, I used a combination of Google Voice, Tasker, Secure Settings, Dropbox and Dropsync to enable finding my phone by sending a text message to it.  I documented the first part of the project, which included detecting the text message and turning on GPS, and using Google Latitude to find the phone.  Latitude isn’t around anymore, though you can track location in Google+ now.

At some point after that, CyanogenMod added a feature to their CyanogenMod Account that would let you find your phone and remotely wipe it as well, so I switched to that.  Earlier this year, however, they discontinued that feature and moved it to their C-Apps.  There are privacy issues with C-Apps, so I didn’t want to use it.  As a result, I tried to resurrect the old hack.  Although I had switched from the Google Voice app to the Hangouts app as my text messaging client, the process still worked, with a few tweaks.  Here it is:

Set up Tasker and Secure Settings to detect a text message.  Make sure you select the right text messaging client.  For me that’s now Hangouts.  Create an associated task that does the following:

  1. Variable Set–Name %GPS_WAS To %GPS
  2. Secure Settings–Configuration GPS Enabled
  3. Get Location–Source GPS Timeout (Seconds) 90
  4. Write File–{a dropsync-enabled file} Append Off
  5. Secure Settings–Configuration GPS Disabled if %GPS_WAS ~ off

Steps 1, 2 and 5 will turn GPS on to get the location, then turn it off after, but only if it was not already on.

In step four, you have to write a file to a location that is synchronized by Dropsync to a DropBox folder.  Here’s the contents of that file:

<html><body>
%DATE %TIME<br>
%LOC accurate to %LOCACC meters<br>
Altitude %LOCALT meters<br>
Speed %LOCSPD meters/second<br>
<a href=”http://maps.google.com/maps?q=%LOC“>Map</a>
</body></html>

The process takes a minute or two to update the file.  The delay is almost entirely due to waiting for the GPS to get a coordinate fix.