BungeeAir Protect case
Effective, accurate system
Audible clicking sound; expensive
You can use Apple’s Find My iPhone to locate your precious device should it go missing. But what if you want to know the moment you and your iPhone 4 or 4S become separated? That’s where Kensington’s BungeeAir line can help. I looked at one of their two models: the $60 BungeeAir Protect, which pairs a rubbery case with a remote tether.
The Protect wraps snugly around the iPhone. At the base of the case sits what Kensington calls the leash, which is the dongle that plugs into the iPhone’s dock connector port. (You can use the dongle without keeping it in the Protect case, but it’s far more conspicuous that way.)
The case itself is light grey, with a nice, silicon-like feel. It includes the expected cutouts for the rear camera, headphone jack and Ring/Silent switch, though that last is a bit tougher to slide back and forth with the case on. The case provides button overlays for the volume and Sleep/Wake buttons, making those buttons a smidgen stiff to operate. All the controls are manageable with the case in place. Since the leash uses the iPhone’s dock-connector port, the case sports a Micro-USB port on its base, through which you can charge or sync the iPhone.
To work its magic, you use the Protect case in tandem with two other elements: the included keychain fob and the free BungeeAir app. The fob and the leash connect to each other over radio frequencies. When they get too far apart, the fob warns you.
Here’s how it works: You turn on the fob with its sliding switch and it vibrates and beeps to indicate that it’s paired with the leash. Within the BungeeAir app, you can Arm or Disarm the leash. When it’s armed, the fob starts vibrating and beeping anytime the iPhone gets too far away. By default, you get about 15 metres before the alarm sounds; if you enable the Long Range option within the app, you get about approximately 20 metres before the fob alarm rings. (Those ranges, of course, are variable and depend on a slew of environmental factors.)
Should your iPhone get too far from the fob, the fob starts beeping and vibrating and also locks your iPhone if it’s still within range. Kensington urges you to use its BungeAir system in conjunction with your iPhone’s passcode lock option. (You set a passcode in Settings > General.) That way, if you do become separated from your phone, the system automatically locks it immediately if needed.
That functionality works only if the system is Armed. Even when it’s set to Disarm, however, you can use the BungeeAir to page your iPhone by pressing one of the fob’s two buttons. One silences the fob should it start beeping; the second instructs your iPhone to start playing music – assuming you have some loaded on the device. The music will play for 15 seconds. It’s not a very secure way of finding your phone, since a rogue thief could turn down the volume even on a locked iPhone, but it’s a quick way to find your phone when calling it or using Find My iPhone aren’t easy options.
The fob has its own switch, meaning you can turn it off when traveling on an airplane or in other situations where radio signals are prohibited. From within the BungeeAir app, you can disable the radio on the leash; the other option, of course, is simply to disconnect it from the device. Should you (or someone nefarious) remove the leash from your iPhone when the fob is powered on, the fob’s alarm sounds.
Note that just as my Honda Accord key fob won’t unlock your Honda Accord, BungeeAir fobs aren’t interchangeable and won’t interfere with one another.
They might, unfortunately, interfere with you. I found that the fob made a faint, though audible, clicking sound. Such sounds drive me crazy. It’s quiet enough that you may not hear the sound at all in a room with ambient noise, but I certainly heard it in softer spots.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice
I like the concept of the BungeeAir system. As Kensington notes, it can serve multiple purposes: With your keys on the fob, you can use the BungeeAir app to page your fob and locate your missing keys. If your keys are in your pocket and your iPhone is not, the fob will remind you by buzzing and beeping so that you don’t forget your phone. And, of course, if someone takes your iPhone and you have the fob on your person, you’ll be alerted to that pretty quick, too.
It’s a clever concept and a reasonable approach. If you’re in the market for this kind of security – or keychain-finding utility – the BungeeAir system get the job done.