Are you sick of checking in every time you change locations? Do you wonder where your family members are (or at least where their phones are)? Do you want to trust your every move to a 3rd party (other than Apple) who focuses only on mobile device security? If you answered yes to these questions then maybe you should try iHound.
iHound is an alternative to Apple’s MobileMe, with more features and flexibility.
iHound is a web-based tracking and mobile device security service with an iOS or Android app component. The app interface is relatively simple, just a simple map showing the current location of your device, and an offer to update that location manually (though the GPS is persistant so this is really unnecessary most of the time). The web interface is quite useful, offering automatic check-in, location sharing and alerts for location triggers. The iHound app is a good way to keep track of your device(s) and the people who use them, with a few caveats.
To begin using iHound you install the app on your device and go to their website to register. The web account is free, but the iHound app costs $3.99 and includes a three month subscription. After three months, the pricing plan is tiered: 3 months: $3.99, 6 months: $5.99, 12 months: $10.99, 24 months: $19.99. You can subscribe in-app.
- GeoFencing - Virtual fences that are triggered when your device enters or leaves the fenced area.
- Tracks the locations of the devices in your account – I wonder where my daughter is? I’ll check iHound!
- Push Notifications - If you lose a tracked device, iHound can display a message of your choosing. Examples: alternate phone numbers or reward amount.
- Sounds an Alarm – Lost your phone in the house? Send a loud recurring alarm from your phone.
- Remote Wipe – When a device is lost or stolen it could be only a matter of time before that device’s security is compromised and all your data is in a stranger’s hands. iHound lets you wipe the device remotely to add ultimate security.
Using the App
Once iHound is installed and activated, your device will be pinging iHound with your location every few minutes. Again, if you open the app you’ll see a map with your blue dot in the middle and a button offering to check you in. There is also an in-app subscription page, but the app is simplistic, as all the power is on website interface.
To set up a GeoFence, log into the iHound site and pick a location in the GeoFencing tab. Once the location is added, you can select how far the fence should be from the location (I used the default of 0.5 miles) and what will happen when you cross the fence.
This is where it gets really interesting. iHound links with Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, so you can set up fences to Tweet a message, Post a Facebook status or Check-in on Foursquare! Very cool. I set it up for work and never had to worry about remembering to check-in (gotta keep that mayorship)!
Additionally, you can have it send a push notification when you enter or leave the fenced area. I set one up to remind me to grab my work ID badge using the voice of my mother and one to tell me when I’m home!
The web interface is where you can send a push notification, remotely wipe or sound the alarm for your device. They also provide a mobile version so you can create a geofence for your new favorite spot while at your new favorite spot! Once you’ve set up all your fences complete with tweets, Foursquare check-ins, and Facebook posts, you’re all set to forget you even have iHound until you need it.
No app is perfect, and while iHound is not strictly an app, the app only provides a link to your phone, iHound is not without problems. The user interface on the phone could be a little more useful, even providing a link to their mobile web would be better than just a map with your location. Additionally, in iOS the persistant GPS location causes the GeoIcon to always be on. Always. This is a bit annoying, but expected.
Continuing about the persistant GPS, I feel like the pinging of my location didn’t affect my battery life too much, however that might not be the case for you. I did notice lag in GoogleMaps and other location based services upon installing the app. I can’t prove it was iHound and not just my phone, but after removing the app performance did improve greatly, so pay attention to your device’s performance.
Overall, iHound’s geofencing abilities and the ability to track both Android and iOS devices make it quite valuable. If you only have iOS devices then FindMyiPhone is free, so that eliminates the need for the tracking features, but the GeoFences are both fun to set up and cool to use, and as a side note, while reviewing the app I never once forgot my work ID badge.
If you have children or feel the need to know where a friend is anytime you wish then iHound would be good for you was well, or if you keep a lot of sentitive data on your device (and again, don’t want to use the free FindMyiPhone) then iHound could be very useful. I’d give it three out of five stars, mainly for the cool GeoFences, but with a bit more effort they could push it up to three and a half.
About the Review Device
I hold almost 200 apps on my phone at any given time. I’ve had a number of iPhones, but currently hold the iPhone4, which provided the platform for this review. I keep the iOS updated and do not jailbreak for reviewing purposes. If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments and I’ll be sure to try and answer them!