Smartphone theft isn’t unusual around the world, stolen devices usually end up circulating the gray market. The Activation Lock feature in iOS 7 hopes to tackle that, and U.S. government officials believe it just might be able to do so.
In the past, officials have implored many manufacturers, Apple in particular, about developing a system that would put a dent in the circulation of stolen smartphones. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón both have pressed Apple to come up with something, and it did, the feature is called Activation Lock and it is present iOS 7, which was released to the public day before yesterday.
Apple already offers a service called Find My iPhone, it works with iPads and iPod touch as well. This service allows users to locate their device if it is lost, they can also wipe it clean if it has been stolen. What Activation Lock does is that it doesn’t let anyone else configure the device after it has been wiped, access is not granted until and unless the Apple ID that was used to wipe in the device in the first place in entered. This theft deterrent feature will aid in curtailing the flow of stolen iOS devices in the gray market.
Both Gascón and Schneiderman are of the view that this is an important first step towards ending the global epidemic of smartphone theft. Wiped and disabled devices won’t have any value on the gray market, but despite that, it is too soon to speculate if the feature will actually bring about a decline in theft incidents.