Apple introduced Find My iPhone back in 2010 as a way for iOS users to locate their device in case it was lost or stolen. It also offers an easy method to remotely delete all the data on your device to protect sensitive information. Unfortunately, it had a major weakness, it was very easy for someone to erase and restore the device as a new device, and use it.
Apple has addressed this limitation with a new feature called Activation Lock in iOS 7, that ties your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with your Apple ID. With features like Activation lock, Apple has made it next to impossible for someone to use your device without entering your Apple ID and password. There is no new setting to enable or disable Activation Lock, the feature has been integrated with Find my iPhone, so it will be enabled automatically when you enable Find My iPhone.
The problem for iOS 7 users arises when they lose access to their Apple ID. Previously when a user lost access to their account, they potentially lost access to previous purchases or the associated Apple email, but with iOS 7 they now lose the ability to reset or resell their phone. As Apple stated in its knowledge base article, even Apple technicians may not be able to provide service.
When you enable Find my iPhone in iOS 7, Apple stores your Apple ID on its Activation services and links it to your device. So going forward, your password will be required before anyone can turn off Find My iPhone on your device, erase your device, or reactivate and use your device.
- It is not possible to turn off Find my iPhone without entering the Apple ID password. This is to ensure that someone who has access to your iPhone, cannot disable it without your knowledge.
- You also can’t restore the device using iTunes. iTunes will inform you that the device cannot be restored as Find my iPhone is on. So you need to first turn off Find my iPhone, which as we mentioned earlier, will prompt you to enter the Apple ID password, and then restore the device using iTunes.
- If someone tries to erase all the content and settings from the device via the Settings app, he or she will be prompted to enter the Apple ID password.
- Someone can restore the device by putting it in DFU or recovery mode, however after restoring your device, the person will be prompted to enter the Apple ID and password during the setup process, so it won’t be possible to use the device.
- Apple has also made improvements to the Lost mode feature in iOS 7. Now when you remotely wipe the data on your lost or stolen device using Find my iPhone app, you will still be able to display the custom message with your phone number on the Lock screen. iTunes will also display this message when someone connects the device to a computer running iTunes.
If you’re planning to sell your device with iOS 7, you should disable Find my iPhone in order to deactivate the Activation Lock. You should also check for Activation Lock before purchasing a used device.
At the end of the day, no system is foolproof, but these changes should deter thieves from stealing iOS devices. Government officials also seem to be happy with the improvements made in combating smartphone theft. The Henrico, Chesterfield and Richmond Police also wants iOS device users to upgrade to iOS 7 because of this feature.