Apple is reportedly making its Activation Lock theft deterrent feature on by default in iOS 8 as it moves to please politicians attempting to require smartphone makers implement a remote “kill switch” to disable stolen devices. The news comes from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón who praised Apple’s decision in a statement today.
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The two have been pushing smartphone makers for stronger theft deterrent features as part of its Secure Our Smartphones Initiative, but had expressed disappoint with the fact Apple’s Activation Lock feature wasn’t enabled for users by default.
Apple first introduced the feature, which requires an Apple ID and password to reactivate a stolen phone after being remotely erased/wiped by the owner through Apple’s Find my iPhone app, alongside iOS 7 last year. Apple previously asked users setting up a new device to optionally enable Find My iPhone, which includes the Activation Lock feature. The screen above is what users trying to activate a device locked with Activation Lock are presented with.
After months of work with the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative, Apple has taken a significant step forward in our shared effort to make dangerous and often deadly smartphone thefts a thing of the past,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “By being the first manufacturer to make an effective theft deterrent a default setting on new products and making it available to customers using older products Apple is helping ensure the safety and security of their customers. For smartphone theft deterrents to fully work, they need to be widely adopted thereby removing the economic incentive for stealing them in the first place, which is why I strongly encourage consumers to install all available theft deterrent options and why every manufacturer should move as quickly as possible make similar features a default setting for their products. ”
Users on versions on previous versions of iOS will still have to enable the feature by turning on Find My iPhone in Settings or when setting up a new device.
Apple’s decision also follows a recent bill signed into law in California that will require smartphone manufacturers to implement a kill switch in all devices by July 2015.