Your BlackBerry slinks into the front door and carefully closes it. Being way past curfew, it tries to sneak back to its charging cradle before it gets caught. The lights flick on and it stops dead in its tracks. It knows it’s in trouble by the glare you’re giving it. You ask where it has been and who has been using it behind your back. Knowing it can’t lie to you, it (somehow) performs a self security wipe. In the morning it will forget what happened, as though it was in a drunken stupor. You’re not going to let it slide however. You have a pretty good idea of what it got up to last night; for you had Tracesaver installed and running those wild hours before the wipe.
Tracesaver keeps tabs on a BlackBerry when it is out and about. It records what types of activity it’s performed and where it is (or has been). I’ve seen similar applications being used for the forces of evil (or just plain sleaziness), but I truly think this is a great, cost effective method of keeping tabs on your kids, staff, or your own missing/stolen smartphone. Read on for a quick look.
The Tracesaver application, aka BBCallWatchV500, is brought to you by Metricell Ltd. Tracesaver is their free “subscriber experience” option. Current version of the application is 1.8.1 and has a minimal file size of 156.6 KB
Once downloaded, access the application and register an email address you want to associate your Tracesaver account with. The rest of the set up happens from your computer. The Tracesaver application on the BlackBerry offers limited features. The main screen will display monitoring and network details. You will see data such as; positioning, GPS status, number of satellites and CGI (Common Gateway Interface). The application also has limited tracking abilities using a map. In map mode, your recorded locations are represented by dots, which provide details about date, time and signal strength. Besides being able to zoom in, out or snap to your position, there’s really not much you can do with this feature. The real magic can be seen at Tracesaver.com. The information that the Tracesaver application captures is sent to the Tracesaver site, either via email or HTTP – you’ll be looking at 700 to 900 kb daily. It doesn’t provide live tracking, but rather recorded history of movement and usage.
Tracesaver utilizes Microsoft Silverlight in order to provide an extremely smooth and rich navigation interface. To be honest, I was both impressed and a little creeped out about how much detail Tracesaver was able to capture. As far as reporting goes on the website, I can view any usage other than data. I’m going to focus on the reporting. so we will only look at two screens: My Day and My Calls.
So you don’t entirely believe that your son was actually at the library studying until 3am on Friday night? Time to log into Tracesaver. At this point, the route is plotted on an interactive map. Along the route, dots of multiple colours indicate the signal strength recorded at those points – don’t worry, a legend is provided as well. Other icons are used to represent Call start /End points, dropped calls, data traffic, GPS interpolated position and network location. Not all icons seem to be used as none of my dropped calls were marked. My data traffic was nowhere to be seen on the My Day screen, but can be made accessible in the My Calls screen. A yellow line shows the route taken between the call start and end points. This way, you know if someone says they’re about to go into a produce store, but they’re actually in an Arby’s drive-thru. The map has four views to choose from: Road, Bird’s eye OSM (OpenStreetMap) or Aerial.
Despite being able to use my GPS with other applications to view my direction, Tracesaver didn’t seem to allow me to see the information on the map. The dots told me where I was at a specific interval, but didn’t show my actual path. When I clicked on a dot it also told me what was my Lat/Lon coordinates, signal strength, battery level, altitude and speed and accuracy (in metres). If you click on a call start dot, you will see the same information, plus the phone number dialed/called. Below the map is a series of graphs that can be used to view the same values over a period of time. In other words, you can see your battery level change throughout the day, your speed and how much your signal strength varied.
To the right of the screen, a calendar allows you to choose which day you want to look at. You can also see the details of the number in question (number, carrier, model, manufacturer and IMEI). Below this is the Route Details section, giving you an Interval by Interval list of which town the user was in, the duration, and the signal strength.
My Calls is supposed to report on Today, Last Week and Last Month. I have never been able to access details about the current day, and the days from this week are grouped into the report for last week. The left half of this screen captures the quality of the signal strength, call, 3G service, coverage, data connection and data speed and uses a 5 star rating for each. Below this are the calls made in the specific report, with each indicating the date/time, duration, location, coverage, number of the other party, incoming/outgoing status, 2G or 3G network, as well as your battery life. The right side of the screen also makes use of the map and, as I mentioned before, I can also see when and where there was any data communication. It won’t say what it was, but it will tell me the upload/download speed and how much data was involved. The map screen can switch to a summary screen giving me details like my top 10 calls or locations and site proximity.
Before I say anything else, if you are looking at this for personal use, make sure the person using the BlackBerry knows that the application is on there. Stalking is a real no-no. Of course, it’s kind of hard to miss, seeing how it shows up under the active applications all of the time. If you’re looking to use it to keep track of your employees in the field, or even your kids, why not go with this free tracker? It also helps you learn where the weak or dead spots are for your carrier. I did find that the application was a bit of a strain on my battery life, but nothing significant. For more information on this service, head over to Tracesaver.com