Review of SmrtGuard for BlackBerry Smartphones
Have you ever misplaced your Blackberry? You start back-tracking in your mind, thinking to yourself, "Where do I last remember using it," while the sweat starts to form on your skin. The next thought on your mind might be, "When did I last back up my data, and why did I keep putting off adding password protection to it?"
I had an experience with one of my first cell phones where I lost it in a snow bank and ended up finding it a week later. Fortunately all I really had lost were the contacts on it, and there weren't that many on there at the time. Now with my Blackberry, I know how much information I have on it, and how much I'd hate to lose it. Fortunately for cases like these, SmrtGuard brings us some assurance.
I first learned about mobile tracking through a service called GoTrax when I worked for Bell Mobility. It's Bell Mobility's fleet management tool that lets businesses track their fleet. So for instance if a company has a fleet of 5 trucks, they can track where they've been and how far away they are from their destination via their cellular phone. Most cellular providers have similar tools available for businesses.
After I learned about that tool and started using it, I felt that if anything were to ever happen my Blackberry, I could always trace my tracks back via the hourly tracking that I had set up for myself via GoTrax and hopefully end up locating it. When I left my job at Bell Mobility, I left GoTrax along with it since it was a business feature and I switched my Blackberry to a personal account. I rustled through what I would do if I were to ever misplace it, and I came across SmrtGuard. After testing several similar apps, I fell in love with SmrtGuard. I never managed to get it working with the continuous tracking, however most of the SmrtGuard features trumped what GoTrax had to offer, and the best part is that most of the core features are free forever.
SmrtGuard is an extensive backup, recovery, and security tool. Here's a list of things you can do with it:
- locate your lost Blackberry
- back up your information manually or on a recurring basis (either via your phone or remotely via the SmrtGuard Dashboard)
- track loved ones, with their permission
- lock and/or wipe your device remotely
- allow you to listen to the surrounding area from your phone remotely by having it call a phone number of your choice
- scan your Blackberry for viruses
- control calls coming into your Blackberry
- quickly and discretely call for help in an emergency
- remotely send an audio ping to find your phone if you have it set to silent
- send notification if the registered SIM card is changed
- following your location so you can map where you've been
- access backed up data via the web portal, using a computer
So how does it work? I'm glad you asked. After installing and activating the SmrtGuard app on your phone, you would configure your settings within the app using your phone. Within the 9 buttons on the main page of the app, you'd use the following to configure it.
Backup (pro): This is where you would configure what information to back up off of your phone, and how often you'd like to back it up if you choose to back your info up on a regular basis. You can also perform a manual backup from here.
SmrtGuard Backup Menu
Personal Guardian (free): Here you would configure your phone to send out a Tweet, SMS (text message), e-mail, and/or make a phone call in the case of an emergency. The way this feature works is by pressing and holding your left convenience key for a set amount of time until your phone vibrates at which point it will perform the action(s) specified within this screen.
SIM Guardian (free): From here, you would register the SIM card that is currently in your phone, and configure SmrtGuard upon the insertion of a foreign SIM card to send out a notification via e-mail and/or SMS (text message) with any information that SmrtGuard is able to provide including current location of the phone. This feature is also included on the free version.
Anti-Virus (pro): This is used to configure a virus scan at a regular interval or a manual one can also be started from this screen. This feature can only be used for the 30 day trial, and is past that point part of the Pro package.
Anti-Spam (pro): From this screen, you can create a blacklist of e-mails as well as enable a call blocker that can block specific phone numbers and/or Private/Unknown Callers.
NOTE: The features marked as "free" are included in the free version, and they're free forever. The ones marked as "pro" can only be used for the 30 day trial, and are past that point part of the Pro package.
Once your phone is lost, the Dashboard can be used to track it down and hopefully locate it assuming it's still turned on.
My favourite part of SmrtGuard is how similarly to GoTrax, it's able to show you where your phone has been within a regular interval within up to the last 200 hours (just over 8 days). You can configure how far back it saves your location history. This screen also allows you to plot each of the entries from the list onto a map which among other things displays how accurate the reading is.
Automatic Location Tracking
The only thing that I have found to be a bit of an issue with SmrtGuard is that the location tracking can be very far off every now and then. When I've been in Toronto, I have seen it plot me in Baltimore Maryland, which is about 750 km or 460 miles away from where I actually was (in previous versions of the software, it has plotted me as far as Spain when I was sitting at home), so keep that in mind when going through your location tracking.
** This review was written as part of the CrackBerry Idol 2010 competition. Click for details. **