Developer Matt Wiechec today released a major update to his Marco Polo iOS app that helps users recover misplaced iPhones and iPads with the sound of their voice. The new update brings custom responses and a new Notification Center widget that allows users to find other iOS devices also running the app.

Addressing a different use case than Apple's Find My iPhone service, Marco Polo is intended to allow users to easily find an iOS device located in close proximity to the user. The app's core functionality requires the app to be running in the background, with the device's microphone listening for the key passphrase, which is "Marco" by default. Once the user speaks the phrase, the app generates an audio response, with the default being "Polo".

The new update lets Marco Polo users select phrases like "I'm Over Here" and "Who's There?" over the simple "Polo" response, while also bringing a slew of new character voice options, like "Movie Guy" and "Wicked". The widget, once installed in the Today section of the Notification Center and set to discoverable within the app, allows users to find other iOS devices with a simple tap.

Screenshot (132)

Our largest update yet, ready for the new year. We've added great new features, new voices, custom responses, widgets, and improved the entire app experience!

- Custom Responses are here! Now your device can ring back more than just POLO!
- Choose from responses like "I'm Over Here", "Who's There?", "iPhone Reporting", and many others. Even enter your own phrase!
- New iOS 8 Nearby Widget; skip shouting and find other devices right from Notification Center
- Greatly improved voice recognition
- Added new voices like MOVIE GUY and WICKED, including supporter exclusives like ARNOLD, BUSH, KERMIT, SLY, and more
- The app is now Universal to support the iPad, and completely optimized for iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Marco Polo even allows some customization to the phrase shouted to prompt the app's response, meaning virtually any 12-letter word a user can think of could be used to discover a lost iPhone, an improvement over the original version of the app where some users complained that words with similar sounds to "Marco" such as "mark" would trigger a response.

Functionality in silent mode and while the device is sleeping, as well as a volume boost feature that makes sure the app's voice is heard even if your phone is low, round out most of standard features that were available even before today's 2.0 update.

The app has a decent voice recognition range, and recognizes almost any 12-letter word or phrase added as a passphrase. Slight drawbacks may hinder daily use of the app, however, including the need for the device's microphone to always be active. This means that once you leave the app, the red "recording" microphone bar will be a permanent mainstay atop the iPhone screen. Using the Notification Center widget to discover other missing devices doesn't require the microphone to be on, however.

Potential battery drain may also be a concern given the need to keep the device's microphone active, although we did not see significant drops in battery status during limited testing.

Marco Polo can be downloaded for $0.99 from the App Store. [Direct Link]

Top Rated Comments

ck2875 Avatar
101 months ago
This seems insanely redundant with the "Find My iPhone" feature that allows you to play a sonar sound on your devices, particularly since family sharing in iOS 8 allows you to find family members' devices as well.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Doctor Q Avatar
101 months ago
When I lose track of my phone, I report a child abduction to the police. The authorities then send out an Amber Alert, which wakes up my phone and produces a loud sound. Simple, effective, and no need to use an extra app! ;)

Seriously, I have yet to lose track of my phone because it's with me anytime I'm not in the shower or going through the metal detector at the airport. But I sometimes call my wife's phone so she can find where she left it.

If you lose track of an iPad or iPod touch, having it respond to a spoken request may come in handy. I'm not sure the phrases need to be entertaining as well, but a little humor never hurts.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Baytriple Avatar
101 months ago
Thanks for the waste of money you caused me. "Discreet" really if a huge flashing red bar on the top of my iPhone 6+ is discreet then my name is Osama bin laden. That app lasted aprox 2 minutes on my phone.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Anonymous Freak Avatar
101 months ago
My wife misplaces her phone fairly often, requiring logging in to "Find my iPhone" on my phone and making it beep. This functionality would be great if it were:
1. Baked in to the OS (I *REALLY* worry about a third-party monitoring all microphone input,)
2. Didn't decrease battery life *AT* *ALL*. If this reduces my wife's iPhone to less than a full day of battery, it's useless. She often doesn't notice until the next morning that she can't remember which table it got left under a piece of paper on. If the battery was at 15% at night, it shouldn't be dead by the time she realizes she has to look for it.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
madKIR Avatar
101 months ago
This app has to stay on all the time in order to recognize your commands.
It does drain the battery.
Thumbs down!
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hortod1 Avatar
101 months ago
Tried it, seems to disable any audio notifications (email, sms) as well as disables Hey Siri.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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