When Apple first released iOS 7 last summer, most of the tech news was abuzz with the interesting changes to the interface – the biggest changes Apple had made to how their mobile operating system looked since the very first version. However, there are actually some pretty important, though less dramatic, changes under the hood of the latest OS for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, one of which is making life a lot more difficult for people who steal these devices. Here we take a look at what has been done to make Apple mobile devices more secure in iOS 7, and what this means to you, the consumer:
Entering Apple credentials to turn off ‘Find My Phone’
All iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches that are compatible with iOS 7 have a feature that enables you to track them from another device if you lose them. On the iPhone this is called ‘Find My Phone’. When someone steals a device, the first thing they are going to want to do is turn this feature off, because it obviously offers a way they could get caught. In previous versions of iOS, you could switch off Find My Phone without entering any identification details, meaning if you came by an iPhone, iPad or iPod illegally there was nothing to stop you disabling this feature straight away (as long as you knew about it, which of course, tech savvy thieves did). In iOS 7, you have to enter your Apple ID and password to turn off this feature. This means that once someone has stolen a phone, as long as it is switched on, it can be traced by its rightful owner, unless the thief has some means of figuring out their credentials.
Entering Apple credentials to wipe data
As well as no longer being able to turn off the device tracking system, people who steal Apple mobile devices with iOS 7 installed will also be unable to wipe the data on the device without entering the Apple credentials the device is registered to. This means they will not be able to return the phone or tablet to its factory settings, and it can therefore not be prepared for resale. These changes are very sensible on Apple’s part because a normal user is unlikely to want to wipe their device’s data or turn off ‘Find My Phone’ very often (in fact, the only time most people would do this is if they wanted to legitimately sell their phone themselves), so the extra step of having to enter a username and password is unlikely to prove annoying for users. Why Apple never added this to previous versions of iOS is unclear, but the fact that it is there now is a good thing.
Why theft could still be an issue
While these new steps do make it much harder for thieves to do anything profitable with a stolen iOS 7 device, this does not guarantee Apple mobile devices will no longer be popular targets for thieves. A lot of phone and tablet thefts are opportunistic in nature, so it could be that the thief may not be aware of the difficulties they will have selling the device on. While they may end up with something that is effectively useless to them, you are still left without your device, unless you are lucky enough to be able to recover it using Find My Phone. For this reason, it is a good idea to get insurance for your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. A lot of people who own these devices assume that they are fully covered by their existing policies, but this often is not the case. While home contents insurance is vital to protect your stationary tech like your TV and games consoles, it isn’t necessarily ideal for things you take out with you a lot like phones, because these present higher risk and insurers tend to offer reduced coverage on them rather than upping premiums across the board to handle that risk. Specialist mobile or gadget insurance is therefore a good idea if you own one of these devices.
If you are considering buying a new Apple device, such as the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPad Air or iPad Mini Retina Display, then it is good to know iOS 7 has been updated to offer your device this extra level of protection. If you have an older device which is compatible with iOS 7 and haven’t updated your OS yet for whatever reason, then consider this another good reason to move on to the newest operating system!