Developer: Orbicule BVBA
Price: $4.99 Download on the App Store
Here’s how Undercover works: Using either cell tower triangulation or GPS, you can figure out where your device is in the event that it’s lost of stolen. The way that’s done is by registering your device with the Orbicule BVBA’s site, entering essential information about your phone such as its serial number and other unique identifiers.
Whether you report the iPhone as lost or stolen, its location will appear on a Google Map. Cell tower triangulation will narrow the iPhone’s location to within hundreds of yards and GPS will pinpoint your iPhone’s location to within a few feet. Obviously, 3G iPhoners, with their GPS function, probably will benefit most from Undercover.
During set up on the Undercover Web site, you’ll be asked to provide a variety of information for two scenarios: One, if you must report the iPhone as stolen. Two, if must report the iPhone as lost.
In the “Someone stole it,” scenario, think of Undercover as a sting operation. When the app is launched, it will appear to be a game, with splash screen and a “Loading Game...” timer. It takes several seconds for the “timer” to finish—long enough for the iPhone to transmit its location to your online Undercover account.
What happens after that is up to you. You could let loose the bloodhounds and hunt the thief through the dark and wild moors until you corner him like the rat he is. Or, you could contact the police, which would be a more sensible thing to do.
Again during setup, you’ll be asked to provide local police department contact info, so you can report if, when and where someone grabbed your iPhone and where it is at the moment. The local gendarmes will get an email indicating that the thief has run amok.
In the “I lost it,” scenario, when Undercover is launched, it will display a message you created on the Undercover Web site and a button to dial a designated number. You might enter something like, “There’s a reward if you bring back my lost phone.”
What if the iPhone was lost and you think it’s stolen or the other way around? If a thief sees a “Return to me…” message that will be a tip off. If the finder sees a “Loading game…” message, that might be confusing enough to delay the iPhone’s return.
Undercover is not fool proof but it's probably the best option you have for recovering your missing phone. I ran it through the iPhone-o-meter every which way and it worked without a hiccup.