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How To: Use iOS 7's Anti-Theft Activation Lock

Posted by Carter Dotson on September 18th, 2013

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.

Lost 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.

However, 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:

But 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.

This 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!

How To: Use Find My iPhone to Locate Your iOS Devices

Posted by Carter Dotson on June 24th, 2013

Do you cower in fear that you'll lose your iOS devices and never be able to find them? Well, Apple provides handy tools to make sure that you can at least have a lead on tracking them down and a way to protect the personal data contained within. It's called Find My iPhone, but for it to be any good for you, it's gotta be set up properly! That's why this guide is here.

To set it up, start by enabling Find My iPhone in Settings. It may be automatically enabled from when you first set up your device with iCloud, but if not, or if you disabled it previously, it can be re-enabled. Go to Settings, scroll down to iCloud, and then scroll down to Find My iPhone. Set this toggle to On.

Next, download Find My iPhone from the App Store. Yes, it's a misnomer for iPod touch and iPad users but it will find your devices as well.

When you launch the app, you will be asked to log in with your Apple ID. If you have multiple Apple IDs, choose a common one to log in with on your other iOS devices.

After you do this, it will show any other devices that you have logged in with Find My iPhone, allowing you to see where they are, and to help find them.

Tapping on an individual device will open up a map view showing its current location. The battery life will be shown in the upper-right corner so you'll know if it's near shut-off or not if you are looking for it. Tapping on the device on screen will toggle to map mode where you can scroll around its location, and get directions to its location by tapping on the car icon on its location. By tapping the blue arrow next to its name, three options will be presented to you.

You can Play Sound, which will cause the device to play a unique sound that will help you find it by sound, which will keep playing until the device is found. This is handy if you ever misplace it where you live! The Lost Mode will allow you to protect your device by putting a temporary passcode on it so that no one can use it, even if there's no security on it previously. You can also put a contact number and a message for the person who finds it. All of these options will send emails to the contact email on record for the account so you'll know when someone is trying to use Find My iPhone features.

If you fear that your device is unrecoverable, the Erase Device option will erase all contents on the device. This is an option of last resort to protect your personal data. Hope you backed it up recently!

You don't need an iOS device to find your iOS devices - these features are all available from iCloud.com as well. Fun note--iCloud.com still uses Google Maps, not Apple Maps!

Following this guide should help you keep track of your device if you ever lose your devices, be they in another room or in another city!

Never Lose Your iPhone: iHound's Tracking App More Dogged Than Ever

Posted by Bonnie Eisenman on July 12th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Forget Apple's expensive Find My iPhone program. iHound is the way to go.

iHound is an iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad tracking app that incorporates many of the iOS's unique features. Now, with an update for iOS 4, it's better than ever, and I'd argue that it's the best iPhone tracking service out there. Here's how it works. You go to ihoundsoftware.com, make an account, and then download the free app. The service is free for a month; after that, you can purchase a longer term at $10.99/yr. Compare that to MobileMe's $99/yr requirement for Find My iPhone. Yikes!

Once launched, iHound functions in the background, transmitting your device's location every 10 minutes. You can opt for always-on tracking, too, as long as you don't mind the battery drain. Now, if you lose your iPhone, you log on at the iHound website. From there, you can view your device's current location and / or send a push notification to your device ("Hi there, I've lost my iPhone--please call 555-555-5555!"). Better yet, you can force your device to emit a loud, wailing siren noise. That's sure to catch someone's attention. And if someone turns your phone off, iHound will launch and transmit its location once the phone is turned back on.

What makes this even sweeter is that with iHound, you can have as many devices as you want on the same plan for no additional cost. (Take that, AT&T...your FamilyMap plan just got crushed.)

I've just installed iHound on my second-generation iPod Touch, and I was quite impressed. Not only did iHound pinpoint my location, but the push-notification and siren options work extremely well. It's true that with an iPod's dependence on WiFi, iHound isn't foolproof, but at least I won't lose my iPod in my own house any more. Furthermore, for iPhone and 3G-enabled iPad owners, this is a no-brainer. iHound is a fantastic, affordable, and highly functional tracking system, and with iOS 4's background capabilities it's finally a complete app. Forget MobileMe and Find My iPhone; get iHound!

Apple Launches Find My iPhone App For Unlucky iDevice Owners

Posted by Ben Harvell on June 18th, 2010
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Apple already knows more than most about the pain of losing an iPhone and as a result has launched a new app to help you find yours should it go missing.

Unfortunately, you will need to be a subscriber to Apple’s MobileMe service in order to use the application which immediately rules it out to most who are unlikely to want to pay $99 a year for the privilege. A sixty-day trial is available here.

If you happen to be a subscriber it’s worth turning the Find My iPhone service on, however, as this app could help you track down your iPhone or iPad by locating it on a map or sending a message and alarm to the device with your contact details so a kindly stranger can return it. In the worst-case scenario you can also lock or wipe your device to secure your data (and those blackmail-friendly photos).

While the app could be useful, it’s not essential. The Find My iPhone service can be accessed via the web and, therefore, if you have a web connection to download the app, you might as well simply browse to the site instead. On the other hand, with Find My iPhone installed on all of your devices, it may come in handy if you simply mislay your iPhone or iPad somewhere in your home, office or at a friend’s house.