Having your iPhone stolen is one of the most upsetting situations you can find yourself in. Not only has your pricey gadget been taken away form you, but if you have sensitive information stored on your device (and these days, who doesn’t?), then you may become a victim of identity theft as well.
Unfortunately, thieves have targeted iPhones in a practice known as “apple picking.” Previously, users could use the “Find my iPhone” feature to track down a stolen iPhone, but that feature was very easily disabled, and many thieves were wiping phones before users had a chance to track them down.
Apple has decided to do something about it. According to CNN, Apple has added a new “kill switch” feature that will be coming soon to your iPhone. This feature will require users to enter an Apple ID and password before “Find My iPhone” can be shut off or any data can be erased from the phone. The same ID and password will also need to be entered to reactivate a device even after it has been erased. So even if your phone somehow does end up with its memory wiped, the stolen iPhone will still need your password to be unlocked.
If you find yourself in a situation where your phone is lost or stolen, you can activate the feature from an iPad, Mac, or PC, and you can rest assured that your phone will become essentially valueless to the thief, and even more importantly, your personal data will no longer be accessible and you won’t have to worry about identity theft tied to your phone.
This kill switch, officially known as “Activation Lock,” is making its official debut as part of the iOS 7 launch later this year, and will be standard on all devices, including all versions of the iPhone that are compatible with the software, as well as 4G iPads.
Of course, if you own a jailbroken iPhone, all bets are off. Though there are anti-theft apps that have been making the rounds on the Internet for jailbroken devices, but none of them are very reliable, and they have very simple work-arounds.
Apple users have been clamoring for a kill switch like this for some time, as the iPhone is one of the most-often stolen products in the world. Though this new feature may not help someone after their phone is stolen, this should act as a good deterrent for potential thieves and will hopefully help give iPhone owners a bit more peace of mind.