Apple announces ‘Activation Lock’ theft deterrent feature for iOS 7 ahead of gov’t meeting on rising smartphone crime

Ahead of a meeting with government officials later this month to discuss how Apple could prevent increasing smartphone crimes, Apple today introduced a new feature called ‘Activation Lock’ that it says will be “a really powerful theft deterrent” when released later this fall in iOS 7.

We told you earlier this month that government officials in the US were calling Apple, Google and others to a “smartphone summit” later this month on June 13 to discuss the increasing amount of smartphone related crime in New York city and the rest of the country. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon have been pushing smartphone makers to come up with solutions to prevent crime and discourage thefts of devices.

Today, during its WWDC keynote presentation ahead of the meeting later this month, Apple introduced the ‘Activation Lock’ feature that will require an Apple ID and password to reactivate a stolen phone after being remotely erased/wiped by the owner through Apple Find my iPhone feature. The login information will also now be required to turn off Find My iPhone.

If a user’s device is stolen, wiping the device clean will essentially leave the thief with a device that is inoperable without the user’s Apple ID and password (as pictured above): Read more

Government officials call on Apple, Google & others to secure smartphones following increasing thefts

Apple police

After sending a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google, and others questioning if the companies could be doing more to prevent increasing thefts of smartphones, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has now scheduled a face to face meeting with the companies to discuss the issue.

NYDailyNews reports Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon will meet with representatives from Apple, Google, Motorola, Samsung and Microsoft at a June 13 “smartphone summit” in New York.

Schneiderman wants the same thing that San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón has been pushing device makers on in recent months– a ‘kill switch’ that would render a device inoperable and discourage thefts of devices:

Letting customers shut down their phones would make them worthless on the black market and reduce so-called “Apple picking” — the fastest-growing street crime in New York City. Schneiderman cited statistics that show a 40% jump in the theft of mobile devices in New York City in 2012.

Back in December, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg claimed thefts of iPhones and iPads were the cause of the increase in the city’s annual crime index and the NYPD’s most recent report showed crimes involving Apple products in the city had increased 40 percent. Read more