Anyone who has ever accidentally left behind their iPhone or iPad in a public place like a coffee shop will know the sinking feeling in your stomach the moment you realize you’ve done it. Even if you rush back just one or two minutes later, you know there’s a high chance that the device will be gone.
If the worst happens, and you have another device with you, Find My iPhone lets you track the stolen device – except thieves tend to know this, and all they have to do to prevent it is to power-down their ill-gotten gains. This can be done while the device is locked, with no Touch ID or passcode access needed …
What I’d like to see is a simple iOS change that replaces the current ‘slide to power off’ dialog with a ‘Use Touch ID or enter passcode to power off.’ In that way, a thief would be unable to power-down the device and you’d be able to track its location. (You’d also need to disable access to Control Center from the lock screen to prevent a thief switching it into Airplane mode, but that’s something I consider advisable anyway.)
The protection this would offer wouldn’t be perfect. If a thief has their wits about them, they’ll remove the SIM, which would also prevent tracking. But it would at least remain trackable if it’s connected to Wi-Fi – as it may well be if they haven’t yet gotten very far with it – and not all thieves will think of removing the SIM or have a removal tool on them. It would at least tilt the odds somewhat in favor of the owner.
In theory, Activation Lock means there’s no point stealing an iPhone or iPad any more, as the thief or anyone buying it from them wouldn’t be able to use it. But while some thieves have gotten the message, others haven’t. A stolen iPhone can also be stripped for parts even if it can’t be reactivated.
There’s one possible downside to my idea: if you drop your iPhone in water, you’re going to want to power it down immediately to reduce the likelihood of a short. Adding in the need for Touch ID or passcode confirmation would marginally slow you down. But given that the iPhone 6s/Plus seem to be remarkably waterproof, that’s unlikely to be an issue at least with the latest devices.
Added for clarity: a reboot would still be permitted, the phone starting up again, just not allowing shutdown.
Would this be a worthwhile additional layer of protection? Take our poll, and let us know your thoughts in the comments.