Ever left your iPhone behind in a restaurant or bar and only realized your mistake much later on? If you own an Apple Watch this never needs to happen, thanks to a useful new app that will warn you when you leave your phone behind.
Lookout for Apple Watch (free) has four primary features:
- First it will buzz your watch when you are almost out of Bluetooth range with your iPhone;
- Secondly it will make your iPhone “shout” if you need help finding it – even when the phone is in silent mode;
- And will also show you the last known location of your iPhone on a Map on your watch.
- A Bluetooth signal-based distance meter function shows the relative distance between your watch and your iPhone.
To be fair, some of these features more or less emulate what you get from Apple’s Find My iPhone service, but you get other useful features too, (in the $2.99/month premium version of Lookout), such as automatic photo back-up and theft alert emails if the system notices behavior that suggests your device is stolen, read a little more about it here.
The missing link
I always thought Apple should have baked something like this inside Apple Watch as it ships – after all, if you need an iPhone to make your watch useful it makes sense for the smartwatch to watch over its essential companion. I also think it will be a wonderful stress-saving companion to the HelpAround app, these kinds of dedicated but useful life enhancing tools are precisely the kind of killer apps the platform needs.
I know some Apple Watch users will know that you can use the device to help find your iPhone – you can even flash the LED light on the smartphone to give you a hint where you left it, here’s how that's done:
- Swipe up from the watch-face view to call up Glances. To the left of the Glances screen you’ll see the ping button (just under the Airplane Mode, Do Not Disturb and Silent Mode buttons.)
- Tap the ping button and your iPhone will emit a short pinging sound, even in silent mode.
- To flash the LED light as well as make a sound you just need to tap and hold the ping button.
However, despite being permanently connected to the iPhone, Apple Watch hasn’t warned you when you’ve accidentally left your phone somewhere until Lookout’s useful free app appeared.
The developers say…
The app was developed by the company when an internal staff hackathon identified the need for such a solution.
"Our engineers who kicked off this project were wearable users and decided they wanted to create something specific for the Apple Watch platform during a company hackathon,” Sibo Zhao, Principal Product Manager at Lookout told me.
“The team understood the importance of keeping a wearable application simple, so they laid out the most important, useful features that made sense for our users, for Lookout and for the wearable platform. From there, we built the application from the ground up with these few key features in mind.”
Zhao also has a few recommendations for developers seeking to build effective Apple Watch apps:
“When developing any new app, it's always a best practice to develop the product directly for that native platform rather than pulling from existing products,” he explains. “Because of the nature of the wearable platform, we were also able to create a completely new feature, the distance meter, as another way for people to keep track of their iPhones.”
I think this is a useful app that should help prevent iPhone users leaving their devices behind. Imagine the embarrassment that might have been avoided if an app like this had existed when an Apple engineer accidentally left his pre-release prototype iPhone 4 behind all those years ago. This is so useful I can't help but be surprised Apple didn't develop this itself.
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