$50 to never lose your phone again – CNET

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The $50 Amazon Echo Dot and $50 Google Home Mini aren’t just inexpensive voice assistants — they’re now the quickest, easiest way to ring a lost phone.

Chris Monroe/CNET

It doesn’t happen every day. But if you’re anything like me, you lose your phone in the couch, blankets, bathroom or heap of tech piled atop your coffee table on a semi-regular basis.

At that point, you’ve got a few options. “Hey honey, can you call my phone?” Or you can try one of Google or Apple’s handy “Find my device” tools in your web browser, if you’ve got a laptop or tablet handy. 

But there’s a better, faster way to locate your missing phone. One where you can just say “Find my phone” — you know, with your voice — to start it ringing.

I’m talking about the $50 Google Home Mini or identically-priced Amazon Echo Dot — a pair of always-listening voice assistants that can call your phone on command. Just this past month, Amazon’s Echo gained the ability to make free calls in North America, and the Google Assistant added the ability to natively dial Android phones using hooks built into the operating system.

Now Playing: Watch this: How to find your lost phone using Google Home

In case I’m not being totally clear, here’s just how easy this process is now: 

  1. I literally say “OK Google, find my phone” or “Alexa, find my phone” out loud.
  2. I say “Yes,” or “Yes, call my phone” at the first prompt.
  3. My phone rings. 
  4. There is no step four.

With Google Home and an Android phone, it’ll ring loudly even if your phone is set to silent mode. 

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The Amazon Echo in particular is a huge gateway drug — a gateway to buying things from Amazon just by asking for them with your voice.

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There are a few caveats, mind you. If my wife wants to find her phone, she’ll need to say “Alexa/OK Google, call 123-456-7890” (insert your phone number there) since you can’t register multiple numbers to a single Amazon or Google profile, last we checked. And if you’re trying to find an iPhone with a Google Home, you may want to read this how-to.

But find-my-phone already feels like a killer app for these inexpensive voice assistants. I’d buy one for that feature alone, if I hadn’t already bought them to control my whole home entertainment center and adjust the lights when I’m dealing with baby

And that makes me wonder if dedicated Bluetooth tracker devices, like the Tile or TrackR, have much of a future. Why would I pay $20-$40 for a button that only finds a single object, with a battery I need to replace yearly, when these $50 voice assistants can do so much more? Did Google and Amazon just kill off that entire category? 

Perhaps not — because phones aren’t the only things distracted people tend to lose. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a wallet and keys to track down.

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