Do you lose things? Despite being meticulous about personal hygiene and a snappy dresser, I tend to misplace things. I blame it on bad parenting, of course. But, we all lose our personal items — and as much as it pains us — our gadgets are often the victims. Smartphones, especially iPhones, have been known to surreptitiously slip out of pockets at inappropriate times. Unfortunately, unlike our vehicles, most gadgets do not have panic buttons, or remote key access — although there are some tracking apps that get close. In fact, there are umpteen ways to find lost iPhones, or track your stolen hardware.
Apple’s Find My iPhone has traditionally been the best way to safeguard against permanently losing an iPhone, running in the background (once set up) until you need to locate it. (And for Samsung/Android users, there’s always stuff like this.) But, of course, we have other personal items that are often lost, whether they be gadgets, like iPods, or car/house keys, etc.
Launching this week with its MVP is a startup and its eponymous free iPhone app called Fownd, which simply put, helps return your lost items — one and all. Well, maybe not children, but most everything else. Cofounded by Drew Izzo (the former CMO of Ancestry.com and Roost.com, among others), Fownd customizes a homescreen photo of your choice to include a message that enables the finder of a lost item to connect with the owner — essentially, a terrific complementary service to Find My iPhone.
What do I mean? Well, along with its free iPhone app, Fownd sells tags that you can add to your keys, cameras, flip phones, and just about every other important item that can go missing. These pages of 10 tags sell for $0.99, and can be ordered directly from the app.
As you can see, the tags come in different sizes, with adhesive on one side, so that you can stick them to your personal items — even your smallest ones. One of these tags may take up a lot of space relative to the size of, say, your iPod Nano, but it’s not always about image here, people, think of the utility. Izzo did say that the product is still in its early stages, as Fownd has a team of four working on their product, some of whom have full-time jobs, and tags will likely continue to be improved upon and refined, until that are at maximum elegance.
But the point is that, once you download the app and receive your tags, you are free to register them all through the Fownd app on your iPhone. If they happen to get lost, the finder simply texts the code provided on the tag to the number given — all anonymously — and voila! Because Fownd sends these “connection” messages to your email, iPhone and alternate phone numbers that you provide when you register, you are thus able to be reconnected with your beloved devices/keys. You can see an example text that you might receive in the image to the right.
The homescreen tag is a good quick safeguard for your iPhone, but in the event that your phone runs out of batteries, (something the iPhone 4S especially has been known to do, although it has gotten better with the new software updates), you can just add a physical tag as a backup. Though, hopefully the finder will be so kind as to charge the phone.
Fownd is also working on getting its web client up and running (which it should soon), so you’ll be able to track your iPhone and all other personal nicknacks and doodads from — you guessed it — the Web, and view your phone’s location on GPS via a handy map.
It’s a simple product in conceit, but it works, and it’s a great complement to Find My iPhone, so that users can now keep track of their iPhones and even hope to reconnect with lost feature phones, iPods, keys, and more. And what’s better than saving money on replacing keys, or that 8 million dollar Apple product you just bought?
For more, check out Fownd here. The team is looking for feedback, as the product is still in early stages, so fire away with your suggestions. Android apps are currently in the works.
Update: Commenters have pointed out that there are some similar services out there, like RewardTag, Stuffbak, and another newcomer Pleasereturn.me. (Thanks, guys!) Competition is important, and each service has its benefits, so we encourage you to check them all out. In terms of differentiation, the latter two do offer rewards for returning lost items — a great incentive for those who might not return something out of the kindness of their hearts.
But, Fownd (in its current iteration) beats them all in terms of price. It’s the cheapest. And in terms of the oldest (and perhaps) most well known, Stuffbak, you get two free years of return service, then you have to pay for a subscription. There are a whole mess of catches, and their site reads like some kind of untrustworthy informercial.