GPS tracking is a valuable tool: Whether you are a parent keeping track of your kids as they go to and from school, monitoring your teenager as they become a more independent driver, or a business owner who wants to maximize efficiency and transparency in your fleet. Having a GPS tracking device in your vehicle or in a backpack is a great way to keep tabs on your loved ones.
GPS Phone Tracking: Is it enough?
Smartphones have come out with their own tracking capabilities, with Apple’s Find My Friend for iPhone and iPad on iCloud and several apps available for Android. (although Google recently started to roll out the ability to share location via Google Maps) These apps allow the convenience of tracking loved ones through their smartphones under their current phone contracts. These apps are usually low or no cost, but as the adage goes: You get what you pay for.
Disadvantages to Phone Tracking
Battery and Data
You are limited to the battery capabilities of the phone, which combined with using other apps during use, can cause decreased battery life and performance on the phone, making it an easy excuse for those you are tracking to avoid being tracked. GPS tracking on a phone is notorious for racking up data, which could cause throttling or overage charges in your phone bill.
Easy to Turn Off
Amid privacy concerns, apps cannot force a user to keep GPS tracking on their phone: Which means that the user could turn off the tracking and attribute it to glitches, signal problems, or a dead battery. The other issue is that tracking apps can easily be manipulated: For example, some apps have reported that if the user is on a call, the tracking can stop in the duration of the phone call.
More Likely to Be Lost or Stolen
Phones are more likely to be stolen out of a vehicle than a tracking device, which while the phone can still be tracked, there is no guarantee you will be able to get the phone back. Plus if the thief does a factory reset on the phone, there is a chance that you will not be able to continue tracking it. (especially if you use the iPhone/iPad tracking with iCloud or Google Maps tracking)
Benefits of Using a GPS Tracking Device
GPS tracking devices such as the iTrail Solo GPS Tracker with the iTrail Live app (as well as web-based desktop software, prefect for the office) offers a proprietary GPS tracker over using a smartphone. While iTrail comes with its own price tag and subscription, (starting at 29.95 per month) having a separate tracking device comes with its own benefits:
No drain on phone battery or data
iTrail uses the Verizon CDMA network to transfer data, (which is included in the subscription to iTrail) and their product specifies that the device can run for 14 days from a full charge with 1 hour of movement per day. The device will also go to sleep if the vehicle is idle for a certain amount of time. By using a separate GPS device, it reduces data usage on your cellphone plan and saves battery for the user.
Some phone tracking apps have alert systems, but devices like iTrail have alert systems to notify you if the driver goes above a certain speed, if they press the S.O.S button, turned off the device, if they departed or arrived at a certain destination, if they go outside a set geo-fence or travel area, or the battery is low. These alerts can be sent either via email or text to your phone.
The iTrail device measures approximately at 3″x2″1″, making it easy to place in a glove compartment or backpack. KJB Security also offers a magnet case if you want to mount it to the vehicle.
Some apps either only show real-time tracking or are limited in history reports. ITrail Live allows you to review past data, including speed and location pings.
GPS tracking has become a vital tool in keeping track of loved ones or of a fleet if you run a field-based business. While smartphones have advanced considerably in the last few years in GPS tracking, they are not perfect when it comes to battery life and preventing someone from manipulating the phone settings. Having a dedicated GPS tracking device is the more efficient way to record a person’s travels.