Because Apple devices are so unique, they are often popular targets for thieves because they’re so distinctive and valuable. It’s such a problem that the NYPD has a special unit for Apple device theft. However, in iOS 7 Apple has turned the tables on the thieves by being able to make a device practically unusable with the new iOS 7 Activation Lock.

Powered by Find My iPhone, the still-misnomered service that tracks and locates a user’s iOS devices, Activation Lock makes a device that gets reset to be unusable unless it is logged in to with the iCloud username and password that was used to reset it. It’s the nuclear option that can make a stolen device unusable if the worst comes to worst.

Go in to Find My iPhone, either on an iOS device registered with the same iCloud account as the lost device, or on iCloud.com. Open up your device. Now, you need to choose whether you want to do Lost Mode or to Erase the device.

HowToActivationLock-FindMyIphoneLost Mode works the same as it did before: it automatically locks the device, and creates a temporary passcode if one is not set in order to make sure that the device can’t be used by someone who shouldn’t be using it. As well, it is possible to add a message that someone with the device will see on the lock screen. But they can still theoretically erase it and use it for themselves.

HowToActivationLock-EnterAMessageHowToActivationLock-LockYourDeviceHowever, when choosing to erase the device from Find My iPhone, now what happens after it is erased is that not only is the Lost Device message that was input with optional phone number is shown:

HowToActivationLock-LostDeviceBut also, when trying to set up the device, the unlucky thief will now have to log in with the iCloud account that was set up with Find My iPhone to reset the device.

HowToActivationLock-ActivationLockThis makes it so that unless the person knows the Apple ID and password of the person they stole it from (which is highly unlikely), the device will be virtually unusable. Whether this helps to deter thieves is unknown, but it will help ensure that any thief not only won’t have access to data, but the device they stole will be a brick, too. Just remember to have Find My iPhone set up to begin with!


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