The Find my iPhone feature makes it easy to locate your lost and stolen iOS device, and with the introduction of the Activation Lock feature in iOS 7, Apple has made it even more difficult for someone who has stolen or found your iPhone to use your device.
Unfortunately, it is not foolproof. Someone can easily turn off your iPhone or remove the SIM, to prevent it from being tracked or allow you to remotely erase your data.
But to be fair to Apple, it is leading the way when it comes to implementing anti-theft measures on a mobile platform. I really hope Apple continues the good work and takes steps to make it even more foolproof. Here are some of the features in my iOS 9 wish list for Find my iPhone:
- Only allow users to turn off the iPhone after authenticating using Touch ID or entering the passcode. This will ensure that unauthorized users cannot turn off the device. This may not go down well with all users, so an option to enable or disable it would be great.
- When someone enters the wrong passcode, or if Touch ID authentication fails, take a photograph using the front-facing camera and record audio after three failed attempts. The iPhone should also record the GPS co-ordinates, and upload the information to iCloud, and also send an email (without showing the notification on the device, to prevent alerting the person). This can be extremely useful in identifying the identity and location of the thief by law enforcement officials.
- Apple should also make it easy to share this data with law enforcement officials, just the way I can share photos and videos using iCloud Sharing. I see a future, where I could file a complaint online, along with the IMEI and Find my iPhone information, which can be used by law enforcement officials to catch the thief.
iCaughtU Pro, one of our favorite jailbreak tweaks, brings some of these features to jailbroken iPhones, and we have already seen cases where these additional features have helped in catching a thief.
iOS 9 may not be enough
These features will certainly make the Find My iPhone feature a lot more foolproof, but a well-informed thief can easily prevent the device from being tracked and also from being connected to the internet, by quickly removing the SIM, which will make these features useless.
To prevent this, Apple will have to add a hardware feature in future generation of iPhones, which perhaps prevents the SIM tray from being removed, by using a hardware lock mechanism. Access to the SIM tray could be unlocked only by an authorized person. Update: As reader Macmaniman points out, Apple could easily fix this by including Apple SIM in future iOS devices. Apple SIM card comes pre-installed with iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 Cellular variants. Though I doubt carriers would be too happy about it, and will allow Apple to do it.
Thanks to their high resale value, iPhones have always been a big target for pickpockets and thieves, but studies have shown that features like Find my iPhone and Activation Lock are a powerful theft deterrent, and iPhone thefts are falling. So let’s hope that Apple closes some of the the loopholes in iOS 9. A more fool-proof Find my iPhone might still be wishful thinking as hackers may come up with some way to bypass these checks, but I strongly believe that it will make it a bigger theft deterrent.
What else do you think Apple should do to enhance the Find my iPhone feature? Let me know in the comments below.