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Let's face it, iOS devices aren't cheap and if you keep a lot of sensitive information and important appointments on your device, misplacing or losing your phone can be devastating. Fortunately, Apple offers a free service through iCloud called Find My iPhone. Find My iPhone is a great security measure to have in place and since it's free, there's really no reason to set it up, because it offers you the ability to locate your missing or stolen device on a map. As well as perform remote functions like passcode locking it or even completely erasing it all from a regular web browser. Let's take a look at how this works.
First, we need to make sure the device is set up to use Find My iPhone. Start by tapping Settings. And go to iCloud, if you are subscriber to iCloud and have already previously set up your account to find the, Find My iPhone switch near the bottom of the screen here. You are probably even prompted to turn it on the first time you set up your phone. If Find My iPhone is not on, switch it on. And once it's on, that's pretty much it, you can forget about it until the day you lose or misplace your phone. So if it ever happens that you lose your device or even misplace it somewhere in your home or office. Go to icloud.com in your web browser and login with your Apple ID.
Then click the Find My iPhone icon. After a moment, a map appears giving you the approximate location of your iPhone or other device. If you have multiple devices, they'll all be listed under All Devices. And here, just select the one you want to locate. Now, if you have, or if you lost it had an iPhone, the location should be just as accurate as when you get your location in the map program on the phone. iPod Touches and Wi-Fi only iPads will be slightly less accurate, but you should still be able to get the general idea of where your device is located within a radius of a few blocks, especially if it's in a location with lots of Wi-Fi signals.
And with the map, you might even be able to tell if your device is misplaced at home with you, or somewhere else. You can click the browser or Refresh button to have iCloud search for your phone again, which might be useful if someone stole your phone and they're driving around with it. This is asking me to sign in again. And with this information, you could potentially let the police know the approximate location of your phone, and there have been several reports of Find My iPhone, leading the police right to the person who stole the phone. The display here in the upper right hand corner tells you how long ago your device was located and shows it's current battery level. Below the image of the device are three buttons.
The first one is Play Sound. This lets you send a command to your iPhone that makes it play a loud pinging sound, and the great thing about this is it works even if you left your phone in silent mode. I can't tell you how many times I used this feature just to find where I left the phone in my house. Just click Play Sound, to immediately make your phone start pinging. As long as your phone is still on, it should start emitting a sound within seconds, and in cases where you know the phone is in your house, you can start wandering around looking for it. So you saw that the alert popped up on my screen there and I tapped OK once I found my phone. Notice I've also received an email telling me that the sound was played on my phone.
This confirms to me that the sound did get through to the phone, which might be useful if the phone is actually lost and you can't find it, at least you'll know that it did make a sound some place and perhaps somebody will find it for you. The next button here is Lost Mode, this is used when you've actually lost your phone and want to protect it from being used by someone else who just picks it up. Click Lost Mode and if your device isn't already pass code locked, you'll be prompted to enter a four digit pass code, confirm it. This allows you to immediately lock your phone. If your phone is already protected by a pass code you'll see this screen first.
Here you can enter a number where anyone who finds your phone can reach you. I'll click Next, we can enter a short message if we want as well. I'll leave the default, this iPhone has been lost please call me. And I'll click Done. And in a few seconds a message appears on your phone. And you can see it has the message and the number here so the person finding my phone can call me directly. Notice when I try to unlock the phone now I'm prompted to enter a passcode. If I tap Cancel, there's really nothing else I can do with this phone at this point. Without the passcode I can't get into it. Now if your phone happens to be turned off at the time you send the message, the message will still appear the next time the phone is turned on.
So, if some honest stranger picks it up and turns it on, they'll see your message and hopefully call you. Now a new feature of iOS 7 is something called Activation Lock. In previous versions of iOS, even if you set your device is lost and remotely added a passcode. Whoever found or took your device could connect it to a computer and iTunes and completely erase the phone, pop in a new SIM card and it would be impossible to find using Find My iPhone. With iOS 7 installed in your device however, anyone who takes your phone can't disable Find My iPhone, can't erase it and can't restore it without knowing both your Apple ID and password.
Apple's been spreading the word about activation lock fairly well and as more people become aware of it. I think it's becoming clear that there's very little incentive to steal an iOS device since you can't just wipe it clean without a username and password. All right, the last button here is Erase iPhone. This is for when you've pretty much exhausted all your options and you just want to make sure that whoever found or stole your device can't get to any of the data stored on it. Just click Erase iPhone. And you'll see this message telling you that this will erase all of your settings and data, and you'll no longer be able to track your phone. Also be aware that this can't be undone.
So if you're sure you want or need to do this, you can click Erase, and you'll be prompted to enter your Apple ID's password. I'm just going to Cancel that for now since my iPhone is currently sitting safe and sound next to me. Now the semi-good news is, even after you've wiped you phone, if you happen to find it or it gets returned to you. You can still sync it to your computer again and the back up that was created the last time you synced will be copied back to your phone. Now it's also worth mentioning here that if you have more than one iOS device, you might want to download the free app called Find My iPhone. This is an app from Apple that offers the same services available through the iCloud website, but it's offered in handy app form.
Just to make sure Find My iPhone is turned on under Settings> iCloud, and again just make sure the Find My iPhone switch is on. Then on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch on which you've installed the Find My iPhone app, start the app. Enter your Apple ID and password, and then you'll see a list of all the iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, and Macs registered to your iCloud account. Just tap one of your devices to see its location on a map. In the upper right-hand corner, you can tap the car icon to open up the Maps app and get driving directions to where your device is located.
At the bottom of the screen tap Actions and you'll find the same features we just looked at on the iCloud site for playing a sound, putting the device into lost mode, or erasing the device. So as you can see, you get the same functionality in this app as you do on the iCloud website. But this is a nicer interface to use when you're on an iPhone and it's a free app so it's worth downloading on your devices, if you have more than one iOS device. Of course if you only have one iPhone, there's no point in installing the app since if you lose your phone, it obviously won't matter if the app is installed on it or not. Okay, so that's a rundown of the services available from Find My iPhone, which again is part of the free iCloud collection of online services from Apple.
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