How to Track a Car with GPS on Your Smartphone
If you are having difficulty remembering where you parked or you want to keep a closer eye on your teen driver, it’s simple to track a car with GPS on your phone. You don’t need any expensive equipment and there’s no reason to pay for monthly service. With all of the free options available to you, it’s easy to get all of the features and capabilities you are looking for.
You can track your car using the Android native features such as Apple Maps and Google Maps. You can also opt to use the Parked Car Locator, Find My Car – GPS Navigation or Prey, all third-party apps designed to work with compatible devices.
This article will show you the best ways to use your smartphone's GPS system to locate a car. The best times to use a GPS tracker are also discussed.
You can track a car using your phone's GPS
1. Google Maps
Google Maps can be used to locate your parked vehicle, regardless of whether it is an Android or iPhone phone. The steps required to activate the car depend on which type of device it is.
Tap on the blue pin at the top of your Android smartphone to see where you are currently located. You will need to click on the bottom of your car and choose More Info before you park. There are several options available to you. Photos can be added if the location is not clear. Furthermore, there’s an option to add time left if you are parked at a meter.
Tap on the blue pin from your iPhone to display your location. If you swipe it, you can add more details.
When you want to park, either one of the two devices can help you do it. As with the last app, this feature only helps you find a parked car but does nothing for tracking the vehicle while in someone else’s control.
2. Native Android Features
An Android device that was released after 2014 has a special feature called Find My Device. The original name was Find My Android. You can use it to find the phone of your friend or family member.
The service pings the tracked phone’s device, so the location can be sent back to you. You can view the location of the device from the Google web interface whenever you like. These features require a Google Account.
To activate this feature, go to the device’s settings. Tap on “Lock Screen and Security.” There will be an option for “Other Security Settings.” Select “Device Admin Apps.” From here, you will select Find My Device – Activate – Close.
Access the Find My Device dashboard from your web browser and log into your Google account. You can view the location of your device in real time as long as it is connected to Google's system.
3. Apple Maps
Apple Maps can be used to track the location of your iOS devices. This feature is helpful if you aren’t sure where you have parked the vehicle.
To use this feature, navigate to Settings – Privacy – Location Services from the iPhone. You will need to turn on Location Services. Now, you will navigate to Settings – Maps and switch on Show Parked Location. To show your parked location, place a pin in the map after you have gotten out of your vehicle. When you're ready for your vehicle to be found again, open the app and follow the instructions to locate the pin.
This app is great for finding parked cars, but it does nothing for tracking the vehicle while it’s out of your control. A different app is required if you wish to track a driver younger than you.
RELATED: 10 Best GPS Trackers for Cars – Review & Buyer’s Guide
4. Parked Car Locator
It Applicable to Parked Cars Works with Android compatible devices. Once you have reached your parking spot open the compass and zoom in until it reaches your current location. There’s a Park Here button that you can tap to set the location.
Open the app, and then follow the arrow to your car. The view can be switched between satellite, normal, terrain and hybrid.
A handy Android application is also available. Search for My Car – GPS Navigation. With this app, you can leave a note about the current vehicle location, so it’s easier to find later. You can tap on the Park button to add a photo or note about your current location.
Open the app, click Find My Car and you will be able to locate your car. To help guide you in finding the perfect spot to park your car, you will get directions.
Prey, which is very similar to Find My Device can also be used on multiple devices. This app is compatible with Android and iPhone as well as Windows, Mac and Linux. You can also track all your devices.
Prey comes as an anti-theft and loss app. It can be used for much more than simply tracking your mobile devices.
When you need a GPS tracker dedicated to your needs
It’s not difficult to use your mobile device as a tracker, and you may consider doing so temporarily. However, long-term tracking capabilities are best achieved with a dedicated GPS unit.
Your device's battery will quickly run out due to the tracking app. A lot of background processes can drain your battery. A dedicated GPS means that you don't need to use your phone for the results. This will save you a lot of battery.
You also rely on the mobile phone's signal. The signal can be distorted if the vehicle is not in good reception. Dedicated GPS devices are much more accurate, pinpointing the location much better, even in an area where cell phones don’t work.
A dedicated GPS tracker is as cheap as $20. It is worth the extra expense to keep your smartphone safe from damage or abuse by using these pieces of equipment. You can mount many of these items to your car so that you always have it with you, even in the event it's stolen.
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