You can locate your lost or stolen smartphone on a map using an app like Find My iPhone for iOS or employing other clever tricks on Android, but if you’re feeling particularly mischievous, you can also set your Android phone to dial for help when it’s been stolen. Here’s how.Some backstory: Some unlucky thieves were recently apprehended when one of the bandits accidentally pocket-dialled 911 on his mobile phone while the group was riding in the car discussing plans for a future heist. Instead, they were nabbed.
If your phone pocket-dialled for help while in the possession of the person who stole it, does that mean the thief would be discussing their location or plans for other heists? Probably not. But it’s a fun idea, and with a little know-how, you can set your phone to automatically “pocket-dial” pretty much any number you want in the event it’s stolen. Here’s how:
What You’ll Need
- An Android phone
- Tasker ($6.42 in the Android Market)
Set Up Your Phone to Dial a Number When It Receives a Text Message Trigger
We’ve talked about how to use Tasker to automate tasks on your Android phone before, and followed up with several clever uses, so think of this as more of a fun addendum to something like our guide to rolling “Find My iPhone” for Android. It’s not ground-breaking, but if your phone’s in the hands of some scoundrel, consider this one of many ways to get a handle on who took it and where it might be — or as an opportunity to, you know, say goodbye to your beloved gadget and get some closure. (“I’ll miss you, Android. I hope you’re fenced to a nice person.”)
Assuming you’ve already downloaded and installed Tasker, setting it up is easy:
Open Tasker and tap on New, set your Profile name to Pocket Dial, and tap OK.
- In the First Context dialog, select Event, select Phone in the Select Event Category Dialog, and then tap Received Text.
Scroll down the Received Text dialog and set the Content to something unique, like “Unhand my phone, you dirty crook!” You can optionally set the Sender name to make sure only a specific number or contact will trigger this event. Tap Done.
- You’ll now see a Task Selection dialog. Here, tap New Task. You can give it a name if you like, but I normally just tap OK and skip this step unless it’s one you’re planning to use in other Tasker setups.
- From the Task Edit / Anonymous dialog, tap the + button, tap Phone, then tap Call.
In the Call dialog, enter the number you’d like your phone to dial when it receives the trigger text message you set up above. Then tick the checkbox next to Auto Dial. Tap Done, then tap Done again.
Note: I’d initially wanted the phone to dial emergency services because that seems like better mischief, but as it turns out (on my Android phone, at least), the phone dialler won’t auto-dial my emergency number. Your mileage may vary. You also might not want to annoy the cops with your automated pocket-dial calls for emergency.
- Make sure the task is turned on (you should see a green check box next to it in Tasker if it is), and that Tasker itself is turned on (see the On/Off button in the bottom right corner of Tasker). Now click Apply. Tasker will close, but your new Pocket Dial profile is waiting in the background to spring to life if you ever receive the trigger message. (You could always beef up the profile to set up more specific conditions, or collect more information like we’ve detailed before, but this post is just focusing on pocket-dialling.
To test it out, text the trigger message to your phone. If everything worked properly, your phone should automatically dial your pre-defined number as soon as it receives your text. Devious!
Are You Going to Catch a Crook?
As I said above, this isn’t likely to amount to much. If you misplaced your phone, these tips are likely to give you more useful information than you’ll get from the auto-dial. But who knows – if it was stolen, you may overhear a name or some other identifying information that could come in handy. Happy vigilante-ing!