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How to Recover Lost or Stolen Gadgets
Finding a misplaced iPhone or other smartphone can be as simple as calling it but there are times when your phone is not simply wedged in the sofa. Locating a lost or stolen smartphone is easier today because Wi-Fi signals, GPS coordinates and IP addresses can be used to place the device to a vicinity however retrieving it can be a hit or miss proposition. Here's a list of tools and services that can be used to track down anything from a missing cell phone to a USB Flash drive.
Locate a Missing iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch
If you have the latest generation iPhone (4), iPad (1 or 2) or iPod Touch (4th Generation) running iOS 4.2 you can use the "Find My iPhone" feature for free, all others will need to pay a fee for MobileMe which runs $99 for a year. Find My iPhone, among other things, lets you wipe your device, lock your data, send it a message or just play a sound for a couple of minutes.
Apple Doesn’t Let You Push Apps to Missing Phones but Android Does
Correct us if we’re wrong, but we’re pretty sure Apple doesn’t let you remotely push apps to your phone from the web-based iTunes store like the Android Market does. For example, from your Google account in the Market you can push apps to any device you have registered with your account which makes it possible to load a recovery app onto a lost or missing device. That also means you need to have Find My iPhone loaded on your iPhone before is goes missing.
Third Party iPhone
Recovery Apps

There is no shortage of third party apps that work in similar ways to Find My iPhone including iHound which not only helps you locate a missing device but will also track someone using the device. One app, iLocalis requires a jailbroken iPhone but it adds some interesting features like the ability to record audio, send remote commands or place calls.
Soon You May Be Able to Locate a Missing MacBook
Rumor has it that Apple is working on a replacement to MobileMe, codenamed "Castle" which may add the ability to help locate a missing Apple computer like a MacBook. Rumors also indicate that this new version of MobileMe may be a free service that could include a personal "locker" for storing photos and videos in the further rumored "iCloud."
Find a Missing Android Phone
There are plenty of options for Android phone owners. One of the more popular apps is called "Where's My Droid," which is free and runs in the background. It looks for different phrases to come in as text messages and then acts accordingly like ringing the phone or sending you GPS coordinates of your phone. Wavesecure is another popular recovery app owned by McAfee, it costs $19.90 a year and performs all the usual recovery functions like remote lock and wipe, backup and restore and location tracking.

Lookout Labs has a popular app called plan b that you can install the app remotely so even if your phone is gone you can try installing this app "over-the-air." It will either start sending you location data or wait until it gets a text message with the word "locate" in it. Plan b lacks a few features of some of the other recovery apps but it's free.
Track Down a Stolen Camera
This free service uses the EXIF ID to find photos taken with your missing camera. Not all cameras are supported, here's the list. The idea is that every camera has a unique ID that it includes in the photo’s JPG file. Stolencamerafinder is collecting a database of those serial numbers that you can search against and possibly find a picture taken with your stolen camera. It's kind of a long shot but clever. By the way, in case you’re wondering, Facebook, in the name of privacy, strips out the EXIF data from the pictures you upload.
How Missing Flash Drive Location Software Works

The story goes that in 2007 a developer named Mat Mullen had his iPod stolen. This event inspired him to found the company iHound which offered a way to help find missing iPods and other devices including flash drives. iHound and Gadgettrak no longer
offer these products but they both worked on the same principal that is the same one used to transmit virus’ through flash drives. The idea is that on the root of your USB device you put an autorun.ini file that starts automatically or when you click the drive name which then loads a dot exe file that runs automatically or tricks the user into running which in turn puts a message on the screen or sends information about the computer to you somehow. We guess it never worked that well since it only seems to be available in shareware now.


Retrieve a Missing Laptop
There are plenty of options for recovering lost or stolen laptops including software and services like Lojack, Gadegttrak, and even the open source project Adeona. Some laptops come loaded with recovery software in the BIOS which prevents the software from being circumvented by swapping hard drives. For a rundown of some of the popular services check out this article.
Locate Retrevo for Gadget Info
Whether you’re looking to replace a lost gadget or shopping for a new HDTV don’t forget to check out Retrevo where you’ll find reviews and manuals on all the latest gear and gadgets like cameras, laptops, HDTV and more.

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MobileMe

I was under the impression, from an Apple store visit, that the Touch 4th no longer requires MobileMe to lock others out of a stolen or misplaced iPod.