Find my iPhone (the app) is hardly perfect. It can be disabled by someone with your phone through the settings (especially if you don’t have a passcode on your phone); it doesn’t work if the phone is powered off (and any thief worth his salt would know this and immediately power off a stolen iPhone); and it no longer matters if the thief restores your phone to its original settings via his/her computer. The simple bottom line, then, is if you’re worried about losing your phone or having it stolen, your best line of defense is a passcode, but that is a bit like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

On the other hand, Find my iPhone can be terribly useful for the klutzy, ditzy, or simply careless. Or the incredibly organized who, on occasion, can be klutzy, ditzy, or simply careless. (Can you see where this is going?)

I couldn’t find my iPad Mini. I hadn’t lost it. I wasn’t panicked. I could even narrow its location to two places. In my own house. But I still couldn’t find it. I decided to try Find my iPhone (which, as you might have guessed, can find any iOS device on your account; it really should be called Find my iOS Device; but I’m guessing that didn’t roll off the tongue so easily). I’m not sure why I decided to try it; all it would really do, I suspect, is confirm that, in fact, my iPad Mini was in my house. Which it was. And which it did.

But I (re)discovered a feature of Find my iPhone about which I had forgotten: the Play a Sound feature. Now, I had never used this before, but it seemed potentially useful in my situation, a bit like calling your cell phone from your home phone and tracking the ringer to find it. So, I hit the button (after hitting the actions button) and, lo and behold, my 10 year old (who was very excited to join in the hunt) and I heard a soft pinging, a bit like radar, from somewhere in the house. We went downstairs, to the family room, to the kitchen, checked the radiator, even back upstairs. Still the pinging but no iPad. Finally Will (10 year old) solved the problem: it’s in your suitcase, Dad. And he was right.

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Remember those two potential locations? One was the bedroom, placed there to be packed. The other was the family room, where it recharges. Well, I was right (sort of) with the first. It had gone into the bedroom, but had in fact already been packed, the part I forgot. And then the suitcase had been moved downstairs.

But without that ping, I’d either still be looking for the iPad Mini or had been without it at least until I was unpacking my suitcase.

Find my iPhone: every now and then, those little features come in real handy.