BERLIN (dpa) – An updated function from Apple lets anyone buying a used iPhone, iPad or other Apple product check first to see if it might be stolen property.
The Find My iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac section of iCloud support lets anyone check to see if a device has been locked remotely, which should help prevent people from unintentionally buying stolen or damaged goods.
The function, in place since the coming of iOS 7, can keep people other than the owner from using a machine. Since the release of iOS 8, it’s active as soon as an Apple ID is stored on a telephone. According to Apple, devices and their status can be tracked by their serial number or their International Mobile Equipment Identity.
Should it turn out that a lock is unintentional – perhaps an old user forgot to lift it – there are ways to use the website to remove the block, so long as one has the proper Apple ID.
The function can turn into a problem with the resale of iPhones and iPads if the old owner forgets to deactivate the account. Again, the protection can be lifted with the Find my iPhone function on the iCloud website (https://www.icloud.com).
Since Apple introduced the feature in September 2013, the number of stolen iOS devices has dropped sharply, according to the US initiative Secure our Smartphones.
Owners in London reported a 24-per-cent drop in theft while those in San Francisco reported a decline of 38 per cent.
At the same time, ever more non-secured devices were stolen, prompting Samsung to introduce a similar function for its Galaxy line of phones. Some US states, such as Minnesota, have made such theft prevention features a requirement for new smartphones.