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A mobile tracker is an application on a cell phone that allows the user to find his or her phone when it is in an unknown location. This term is also used for several other types of programs for mobile devices, including those that allow users to track the phones of others and those that allow the user to track the phone's movement over time. In some cases, a person might call a service that gives information about the user of a mobile phone a mobile tracker, but this is somewhat rare. Generally, a mobile tracker is any service or application that explicitly relies on the use of the phone's GPS or other location identification information.
One way in which a mobile tracker might be used is to find out where a lost or stolen phone is located. This typically entails using a computer to run a program that locates the phone. Sometimes, this type of mobile tracker comes with additional features that take pictures of the person holding the phone, or the program may display a message to the person holding the phone.
Parents often find that a mobile tracker installed on the phone of a child can be useful and provide peace of mind. There are ethical considerations when installing a tracking device on a cell phone without the knowledge of the phone's owner, so very few programs are available that will allow discreet monitoring of a phone's location. The way these programs work differs depending on the design, but most of the time the information is sent either to a computer or the phone of the person for whom the information is intended.
There are also mobile trackers for specific purposes, such as diagramming someone's running pattern or trips taken. These typically document location information over time, allowing a person to connect that data to other information, such as a map or a calculation of speed using multiple points and information about the time. It is possible to find mobile tracking programs of this type for many activities, such as hiking or taking road trips.
While the above usages of this term are significantly more common, someone may also occasionally see a service that provides information about a cell phone number described as a mobile tracker. The information provided by this type of tracking report may be able to identify the owner of a phone, but this is impossible with some types of disposable phones. When looking for the owner of a phone, civilians often do not have as many resources as professionals and law enforcement. Tracking down a cell phone is much easier when cell phone companies can be forced to comply with someone's demands.