Pocket Finder

Google “Latitude” and Apple’s “Find My Friends” are two free apps that help you, well, find your friends. “Find My Friends” works only with Apple’s latest mobile operating system, but Google’s “Latitude” works with anything. Still, if you really want to know what’s going on, you might want a tracking device, like PocketFinder.

The trouble with the two free location finding apps is if you can find someone, they can also locate you. It’s like seeing someone in a mirror: if you can see them, they can see you. An actual tracking device ramps this up to a whole new level.

You can slip “PocketFinder” into a child’s backpack, Grandma’s purse, or your teenager’s car. Once in place, load the PocketFinder application into any Internet-connected device and you can then zoom right down to street level to pinpoint your loved ones’ location, or track a vehicle to within ten feet. The map can be customized so that alerts are sent back if the person or vehicle enters or leaves a defined area on foot or in a vehicle. Speed alerts can be set to notify you if a vehicle exceeds set speed limits. The alerts are sent by email, text message and push notification. (“Push” is when a message pops up on your screen.)

The PocketFinder will be sold later this month at the online Apple store or an Apple retail store, in two editions. However, its use is not confined to Apple, but can be used with any device that can connect to the Internet. (The app for using it with Apple devices is simply a new upgrade to already existing software.)

The PocketFinder GPS Personal Locator is $149. The PocketFinder GPS Vehicle Locator is $189. Both carry a monthly fee for tracking but the initial purchase includes two free months. Ongoing monthly wireless connectivity charges are $13. NOTE: This is not the only device that will do this kind of tracking and send alert notices. We did a search on the Web and found similar services for about the same price, but we can’t review them all. So you should do some web browsing to find the one that suits you best.

If you just need a device to help you find your own location, like when you’re lost in the woods or the giant downtown parking garage, do a search on “GPS locators.” We did this and noticed that the “Bushnell GPS Backtrack” got good reviews. To use it, you push a button to mark your starting location. Then go off to the mall or into the woods and the device will keep giving you arrows pointing the direction to go in until you’re back at your car or destination.

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