Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi showed off quite a few new features of iOS 7 yesterday during the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference. One feature, “Activation Lock,” has some government officials feeling cautiously optimistic that the new feature will help battle the rise of mobile device theft.
Federighi, via MacRumors:
“There’s one feature I want to talk about in a little more detail, which is Activation Lock. So, hundreds of millions of use Find My iPhone to find our phone when it’s just lost in the couch, or maybe left at Starbucks, but also when it’s been stolen. And now, with Activation Lock, if a thief tries to turn off Find My iPhone, or if they even wipe the device entirely, they will not be able to reactivate it because they don’t know your iCloud user name and password. We think this is going to be a really powerful theft deterrent.”
The announcement of the new feature comes just days before a scheduled “summit” where New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón are to meet with representatives of Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft to discuss issues related to mobile device theft. The two officials have been pushing manufacturers and carriers to develop ways to disable stolen devices to make them a less desirable target for thieves.
The Associated Press reports that Schneiderman and Gascón released a statement yesterday in reference to the new feature in iOS 7, noting they are cautiously optimistic about the announcement as they wait to hear more about how it works.
“We are appreciative of the gesture made by Apple to address smartphone theft. We reserve judgment on the activation lock feature until we can understand its actual functionality,” the prosecutors said in a joint written statement. […]
“We are hopeful that the cellphone industry will imbed persistent technology that is free to consumers that will make a phone inoperable once stolen, even if the device is off, the SIM card is removed or the phone is modified by a thief to avoid detection,” the prosecutors said.
The summit is set for this Thursday in New York City, and it’s expected that Apple will share more details about the Activation Lock feature with officials at that time.