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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 for all owners of current iOS devices from the iPhone 4 and fourth generation iPod touch and later, there's really no reason to not 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 set up the device to use Find My iPhone. Start by tapping Settings, then go to iCloud. If you're a subscriber to iCloud and have already previously set up your account, you'll find the Find My iPhone switch near the bottom of the screen here. If you haven't signed in yet, sign in to iCloud with your Apple ID. Then just make sure Find My iPhone is switched on. Now if you don't have an iCloud account, see the movie in Chapter 1 on how to create an Apple ID, and then go to icloud.com on your computer's web browser to create your iCloud account.
But once you have turned on Find My iPhone, that's it, you can forget about it until the day you lose or misplace your phone. So if it ever happens that you lose your phone or even simply 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. If you have multiple devices, they'll be listed under the Devices button here, and you can select the one you want to locate. 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 will be slightly less accurate but you should still be able to get the general area 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 phone is misplaced at home with you or somewhere else. The display in the upper-right corner of the map tells you how long ago your device was located and it shows you its 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 that it works even if you left your phone in Silent mode. I can't tell you how many times I've used this feature just to find where I left my 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. And you can tap OK on your phone once you find it. The next button here is Lost mode. This is when you've actually lost your phone and want to protect it from being used by someone who just picks it up.
Click Lost mode and you'll be prompted to enter a four-digit passcode. This allows you to immediately lock your phone in case you don't already use the Passcode feature. You'll be asked to confirm your passcode. Now if your phone is already protected by a Passcode, you'll see this next screen here first. This is where you can enter a number where anyone who finds your phone can reach you. You can also type a short message or leave the default message here, click Done, and in a few seconds, the message appears on your phone, including a button that lets a person finding your phone call you directly.
Notice when I try to unlock the phone right now, I'm prompted to enter a Passcode. So the only thing someone finding this phone can do with it at this point is call me. They can't get into the phone without the Passcode. 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. The last button here is Erase iPhone. This is for when you have pretty much exhausted all your options, and you just want to make sure whoever found or stole your phone can't get to any of the data stored on it.
Just click Erase iPhone. 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. Beware that this can't be undone, so if you're sure you want or need to do this, enter your Apple ID's password and then click Erase. I'm going to cancel that since my phone is currently sitting safe and sound next to me. Now the semi-good news is that even after you've wiped your phone, if you happen to find it or it gets returned to you, you can still sync it to your computer again and the backup, that was created the last time you synced, will be copied back to your phone. It's also worth mentioning here that if you have more than one iPhone, 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 here it's offered in a handy app form. Just make sure that on all your devices, Find My iPhone is turned on under Settings>iCloud. Then on any other iPhone or iPod touch on which you've installed the Find My iPhone App, you can start up the app, enter your Apple ID and Password and sign in. In a moment, you'll see a list of all the iPhones and iPads registered to your iCloud account. Just tap one of your devices to see its location on a map.
At the bottom of the screen, you'll find the same features we just looked at on the iCloud's site for playing a sound, lost mode or erasing your device. So 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 to 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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