Seek and you probably won’t find

By Marla Boone

Contributing columnist

Through every fault of my own, my phone goes missing, on average, twice a week. Just about right now, I should be protesting that I’m really a very organized person and that my house is reasonably tidy and that I tend to put things where they belong, or at least my version of where they belong. All of those glowing attributes do apply to me, but I still lose my phone every three days or so.

One well-meaning friend proposed that I could find my phone by calling it. When it was gently pointed out to him that I could not call my phone because, you know, I couldn’t find my phone, he was very sympathetic to the cause. He didn’t have any more suggestions, but he was suitably sympathetic. Another friend pointed out that I could get an app that helps the app-er find items. I thought this was a way better idea than using a missing phone, so I investigated the app. This is what we tech-savvy people do, see? We investigate apps before we install them to make sure they’re good apps. I wouldn’t know a good app from a bad app if it walked up to me correctly labeled, but I was willing to invest the four minutes it took me to Google it. When you’re as tech-savvy as I am, you have to throw yourself on the mercy of a higher power, and Google is a pretty high power. I believe everything it tells me. Google said the app for finding devices was a good app so I installed it. All by myself. I went to the app store, searched for an appropriate thing-finding app (and by “appropriate,” I mean “free”), and put it right on my iPad.

Because I am the luckiest person ever, while I was waiting for the app to install, I found my phone right where I left it: on the piano. I had walked by the piano about three times in the previous hour but hadn’t seen it. In my defense, a black phone on a black piano is pretty tough to spot especially if you’re sure you didn’t leave the phone in that particular room. That’s the kind of can-do thinking that will let you get lost in a phone booth. (A phone booth, children, is an antiquated little glass house housing a phone with a cord on it that people used to not be able to find when they really needed a phone. The more things change…) But because I had found my phone, I thought I could test the app right away to confirm just how super-duper it was.

I opened the app and this radar screen came up, complete with the circling wand of color. The line of text below the radar screen told me to select my device. This was terrific … I had a choice of things the app could find. Unfortunately, my phone was not listed. In very small print at the bottom, the app queried “Don’t see your device?” Since I didn’t see my device listed, I went way out on the technology limb and pressed that line. It took me to a page headed “What to do if you don’t see your device.”

Well, this was the mother lode of great advice. Number one was (and I quote) “Try to find it somewhere else until your device shows up.” I am not making this up. Number two was “Try to restart Bluetooth from Control Center.” This was a little more helpful, the key word in that sentence being little. Number three encouraged me to “Try to disconnect or reconnect to your device.” I’m not sure how a person does this without the device in question, but it’s obvious I was in way, way over my head here. Number four was a real winner: “Find it before it runs out of battery.” What a smashing idea! “Find it before it runs out of battery.” Pardon me, but isn’t that the app’s job? To find the thing? If I could find it, would I be messing around with an app whose sole accomplishment so far was to take up storage space on my iPad? Number five imparted the bad news: “This app can’t find AirPods while they’re in their case.”

During this highly-controlled experiment to see how the app worked, my phone was lying approximately six inches from the iPad. It never did show up on the radar screen, but a friend’s android phone that was a foot away did. I did not think any device that began with a small-case “i” ever acknowledged a device that did not begin with a small-case “i” but this apparently isn’t true. Since the failure of this app to work, I’ve been researching other ways to locate my phone, and this is what I’ve discovered; I need to keep better track of it.