One of the great things about "smartphones" is that they are awfully hard to lose. In fact, there are countless apps that will help locate your phone from Timbuktu to Tippecanoe County. (And oh, how many times have I wished I could call my keys or wallet to find them?) However, if your ringer is on mute, finding it when it's wedged down in the couch cushions requires a keen ear for the buzz of vibrate mode.
Or, if you are a rational Android user, you will download and install the free Android app SMSAlarm, which offers the rudimentary yet essential option of texting your phone a secret message to elicit a loud alarm.
The app is about as elementary as you can get, and that's how I like 'em. There are four options in the program: "Activation SMS" allows you to choose the specific code that will trigger the alarm when texted to your missing phone; "Vibrate" is a yes/no option that determines whether or not the phone will vibrate as well as ring when the SMS alarm is triggered (it will not override your Messaging settings); "Alarm duration" lets you set the length of the alarm, from five seconds to two minutes; and "Test" simply demonstrates what the alarm will sound like when activated.
There's no alarm customization, and it's pretty loud, but better too loud than too soft. I would expect any future versions of the app to address that customization hole. I'd much rather hear something like Mr. Roboto than what sounds like a fire drill channeled through a sub-inch speaker. But SMSAlarm works, and it works very well. For me, I fire up Google Voice on my PC, shoot my phone a quick text message with the secret code (I'm not telling you!), and what's that? That's right, it's my phone clanging.
The tiny little app only uses 53K of space, runs on Android 1.6 and up, asks for no permissions outside of SMS, and is completely free with no advertising. It's quickly become one of those apps that I can't imagine living without...until something better comes along to replace it. A tip o' the hat to Nigel Powell at the Red Ferret for the find.
Editor's Note: SMSAlarm is no longer being offered in the Google Play Store. Users looking for a similar app can try SMS Alert (Paid App).