Here’s the situation: Your phone is in the room, but you don’t know where. There isn’t another phone around to call it. How do you find your handset? Two neat apps let you yell or whistle to get your phone back.
Marco Polo is a paid app for the iPhone and iPad, while Whistle Finder is free to download (albeit with some ads) for Android devices. Both apps have the same base purpose: you make a sound, the phone detects it and responds with its own sound so you can find it. It’s basically like making a call, except you aren’t making a call!
Why These Apps Matter
Let’s face it, we have all been in the aforementioned situation several times, frantically looking under your pillow or overturning that pile of receipts and mail to find your phone. Then you need to look either for your landline (who even has those anymore?) or someone else who can ring your phone, and then go find it.
The problem with that method is that if your phone is on silent, calling it won’t help either. It will ring, of course, but you won’t be able to hear that ring.
Plus, what if you’re alone and don’t have another phone around to call yours with? You’re pretty much stuck then.
Both Whistle Phone Finder and Marco Polo don’t have any such issues. They are reliant purely on your ability to make a noise with your mouth, and work even if the phone is on silent. Plus, the sheer convenience of not needing another device to find your phone can’t be understated.
Install this free app from the Play Store and fire it up. In the settings, you need to enable the app, set up the whistle sensitivity, and choose from the different audio alerts and its volume — I favour Psy’s Gangnam Style, but it’s up to you. When you need to activate it, just whistle.
The app worked perfectly from all the way across a 200 sq. foot room, although you do need to whistle clearly and loudly. When I kept the phone under a pile of clothes, I needed to be roughly 15-20 feet away before it could detect the whistle.
When the app is activated and it’s in your pocket, some high-frequency noises will set it off again, but it doesn’t happen so often that you would want to disable Whistle Phone Finder.
How Marco Polo Works
You’ll need to pay a dollar for Marco Polo, and the only thing you get for that is the ability to choose different voices for how it says “Polo”. The app worked just as advertised, again announcing itself loudly across the 200 sq. foot room and picking up the “Marco” shout 20 feet away while under the same pile of clothes.
One thing I did find annoying about this app is that when you keep it on, the notification bar turns red and keeps flashing “Marco Polo” there. I hope there is some way to disable this in the future.
Do They Drain The Battery?
Both these apps need to be running in the background at all times for you to be able to access their features. And obviously, this has meant that many people are concerned about the battery life. Thankfully, I read about these battery concerns before I installed either app, so I was able to compare the before and after effects. All numbers below are rounded off.
Whistle Phone Finder: Before installing the app, my phone took 2 hours to drop 10% in battery life. This was a test environment, so the same conditions of the phone were applied after the app was installed. It took a few minutes less than 2 hours to drop 10% in battery life. The app was invoked once this whole time.
Marco Polo: Before installing the app, my phone took 1 hour and 35 minutes to drop 10% in battery life. This was a test environment, so the same conditions of the phone were applied after the app was installed. It took 1 hour and 30 minutes to drop 10% in battery life. The app was invoked once this whole time.
To me, that isn’t a significant enough drop in battery life to warrant not using these apps, but it does show that they do consume your phone’s battery while running in the background. If you’re short on power, these apps should be the first ones you kill. In any case, if you are worried, there are ways to improve battery life on Android.
To Download Or Not?
With both these apps, my recommendation is yes. They have a light footprint and don’t affect battery significantly enough, so having them installed is worth the convenience of being able to quickly find your device. You’ll be surprised how often you have been misplacing and looking for your phone!
That said, there is the larger question: are these apps necessary or are they just convenience, and in that case, should you be cluttering your phone with them? That’s something we would like to hear from you about. Is this amount of convenience something that seems worth it to you, or is it better to have a lean, mean machine?