Windows Phone Live: Overview of the upcoming “Find My Phone” feature

Back in July 2010, Microsoft announced that a new and free companion service – Windows Phone Live, will be available to all Windows Phone 7 customers. Soon after, showed you one of the first screenshots of this new service,  showing you the ability to set up your Windows Phone 7 with the “Find My Phone” feature. Last week, Paul Thurrott on WindowsPhoneSecrets.com posted a series of screenshots of this feature in action, and to summarise this feature in one sentence, here’s what Paul says:

[The Find My Phone feature] will help you recover a lost or stolen Windows Phone, and unlike similar services from, say, Apple, it’s absolutely free.

As mentioned in our previous post, Windows Phone Live appears to be part of the new Windows Live Devices, and your Windows Phone 7 will become one of the “devices” listed. Upon clicking on the “Find My Phone” feature, here’s the four options you’ll see:

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The first option, Map it, allow users to locate their WP7 devices on Bing Maps using its built-in GPS capabilities (since A-GPS is a hardware requirement on all WP7s). The screenshot below shows that it can be located to an accuracy of within 100 yards:

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But what if you’ve simply misplaced your phone somewhere around the house, but just unable to find it under all the mess? The next option, Ring it, allow you to play a special (read: very loud) ringtone for 60 seconds even if your phone is set to silent mode. This is also particularly useful if your phone had been stolen and you want to attract attention to the thief. Not only this, but the third option, Lock it and display a message, will stop the thief from accessing your personal information, and even allows you to send a 160 character message to the person who picked up your lost phone:

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In the extreme circumstances when you’ve given up all hope of finding your lost phone, the last option, Erase it, will allow you to remotely wipe out all of your information from the phone and resets it to factory settings:

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Probably the best thing about this service is that it’s available to all Windows Phone 7 customers absolutely free of charge, giving it an upper edge to the iPhone’s MobileMe offerings (at a price of USD$99). Of course, we’re still yet to see what the actual syncing capabilities of Windows Phone Live look like, besides an extremely blurry screenshot from Long Zheng. From what we’ve seen, it seems like only contacts, calendar, and OneNote notes can be managed and synced from your Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone Live, and you’ll also be able to view and share all photos stored on your phone via the web service. Being part of Windows Live Devices, it remains to be seen whether a mobile version of Windows Live Mesh will be available for Windows Phone 7/Live, similar to the previous Live Mesh beta offering for Windows Mobile 6. Perhaps an upcoming mobile portal at https://devices.live.com/Devices/Mobile might shed some light on what’s to come in the mobile sync space.

(Screenshots courtesy of Paul Thurrott at WindowsPhoneSecrets.com)