Surely this has happened to you or to someone you know: You put your phone down at home, walk away and a few minutes later, you’re wondering where you left it. There are a number of services, apps, third-party skills and Bluetooth trackers to help in this case but don’t overlook the obvious.
Now that both the Amazon Echo and Google Home support voice calls and conversations, you don’t need to complicate the solution to this problem. Instead just ask your digital assistant for a hand!
Back in May at its I/O conference, Google announced phone calls through Google Home would be coming. It took until August to deliver on the promise, but placing calls simply by speaking to a Google Home device works fine.
So if you have a Home device and can’t find your phone, simply say, “OK Google, call 215-123-4567”, substituting your own phone number in the command, of course. Home will place the call, causing your phone to ring until you can (hopefully!) pinpoint its location nearby. Since the call goes over the cellular network, this will work even if you have Wi-Fi disabled on your phone.
Amazon Echo owners can do the same thing, although it was a little tricky for me to figure this out. That’s partially because when Amazon introduced its voice calling feature, it limited the service to calls between Echo device users. But it also works on phones with the Amazon Alexa app, which let me to try to calling my phone from my Echo Dot.
Voice calling works with through the contact list in the Alexa app, so I first tried to add my phone as a separate contact. That didn’t work. Then I realized that my own name and profile above the in-app contact list, so I told my Dot to “call Kevin Tofel”. Sure enough, it placed the call to my phone with a recurring notification chime.
Of course, right after I got this working using my Echo, Amazon announced all new Echo devices and support for actual voice calls to rival the Google Home. So once that functionality is rolled out to your Echo, you can simply tell Alexa to ring your cell so you can find it.
Clearly, if you’ve lost your phone outside of the house, these approaches won’t work. So don’t throw out that Bluetooth or GPS tracker just yet. And remember that both Apple and Google provide a “find my phone” online service to track down that lost phone. But inside the house, I’ll rely on my digital assistant to lend a hand.