A Primer on the AT&T FamilyMap Service

Written by Felipe on September 10th, 2010

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I’m really excited to be telling you about the cell phone tracking service provided by AT&T called AT&T FamilyMap today.

This service is very similar to the ultra popular Sprint Family Locator service. One of the reasons that Sprint’s phone tracking service is so popular is because you don’t have to download or install an application onto the phone in order to be able to use it.

This also means that there’s no reason to go out and purchase new programmable smartphones to make use of AT&T’s phone tracking service.

AT&T seems to have followed in the footsteps of Sprint with their FamilyMap cell phone locator service. As a matter of fact, it’s similar to Sprint’s service in more ways than one. Allow me to take a minute and give you a basic rundown of this program.

Try Before You Buy

If you’re unsure about whether or not you want to commit to joining the FamilyMap program, AT&T has made it easy for you to test drive their program and will allow you to do so for 30 days at no charge to you. This should give you plenty of time to figure out whether or not you find value in the service and would like to continue using it.

How Much Does It Cost?

If after you have completed the trial, you decide that you would like to continue using the service, there are two payment options. The first level will cost you $9.99 a month and you will be able to track two cell phones. The second level will cost you $14.99 a month and you will be able to track five cell phones. This is a bit more expensive than Sprint’s package but if you’re an AT&T customer, it’s still a good value and not too expensive.

What About Installing The FamilyMap App?

One very nice feature of the FamilyMap mobile locator service is that much like the Sprint Family Locator, this service will work with any cell phone that is supported on the AT&T network. There’s no need to install any special software to begin tracking these phones. If you would like to locate one of the phones that is in your FamilyMap tracking network, you simply log into your FamilyMap account from an Internet connected computer and select the phone that you would like to locate. If you have an iPhone, AT&T has made an application that you can download and use that will allow you to locate the phones in your tracking network using your iPhone.

Limitations Of The FamilyMap Cell Phone Tracking Service

The first thing to keep in mind is that aGPS will only be used as the method of locating cellular phones that have aGPS capabilities. If the phone that you’re trying to locate does not have aGPS capabilities or is in an area where it cannot receive a good signal from the GPS satellite network, a method called triangulation will be used to determine the location of the phone.

If your phone has the capability of communicating with GPS satellites, the service will provide the most accurate results when locating a particular phone. Otherwise, triangulation will be used and the accuracy will vary from as much as a few miles to as little as a few hundred yards.

With many cell phone tracking applications, the app must be running in the phone’s memory or it will not work. Since no software is required to be installed on the cell phones being tracked with the FamilyMap service, this isn’t a factor. You should know, however, that cellular phones cannot be located unless they are in an area that has cell phone service and the battery is not depleted on the phone.

The phone must also be inside an AT&T network coverage area with means that if you’re roaming with your phone, no one will be able to locate your phone with this service. I must admit that I’m not too crazy about that limitation.

What About Privacy?

AT&T is concerned about the privacy of their customers and consequently any phone that is added to the FamilyMap service will receive a text message notifying them that the phone is now able to be located through their tracking program. In addition to the initial text message that is sent out, users have the option of configuring the system in such a way that will notify the phone owner each time the phone is located with the system. The phones that are associated with a particular FamilyMap account will receive periodic text messages reminding the cell phone user that they can be tracked using the cell phone locator service that AT&T provides.

What’s My Favorite Feature?

I mentioned before that AT&T modeled their FamilyMap cell phone locator application very closely after Sprint’s program. Sprint has a feature that allows you to receive automatic text messages at a particular time of day alerting you to the location of a particular phone. They call this feature “Safety Checks”.

AT&T also has this feature but they call it “Schedule Checks”. It’s very easy to set this feature up, all you need to do is enter the phone number and the time of day that you would like to receive notification of the location of that particular cell phone. Then, at the precise time of day, the AT&T tracking service will attempt to locate the phone. If the phone is in an area where it is able to be located, the service will send you either an e-mail or text message alerting you to the exact location of the phone.

What About Finding A Lost Phone With FamilyMap?

Some apps are better suited for the task of finding a lost or stolen cell phone than others. This service will give you a rough idea of where you left your phone. For example, it will be able to tell you that you left it at your office or your home but it won’t be able to help you find which room in your office or your home the phone is hiding in.

What’s The Bottom Line?

If you’re an AT&T customer and you need to track one of the phones on your family plan that doesn’t have a tracking app installed on it, this service may be right up your alley. I like that you don’t have to install a tracking app and I don’t believe that you need to subscribe to a data plan with AT&T. As I mentioned before, I think the biggest drawback is that this app will only work when the phone is actually inside of the AT&T network.

Get the AT&T Family Map Service Here

If you would like to learn more about this tracking service from AT&T, you can do so simply by clicking here: Sign Up For 30 Days Of FamilyMap Free.

I receive compensation as a result of endorsements, ads, or affiliate links on this website: Compensaton Disclosure