Drop in crime rate? There’s an app for that. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
As highly-desirable and premium-priced tech goodies, it’s no surprise that iPhones have previously been among the most stolen items we carry around on a regular basis. In fact, police have even correlated spikes in crime rate to the launch of new iPhone models — suggesting that it’s not just upstanding citizens who keep an eye on the blogosphere.
That all changed when Apple added its Activation Lock feature with iOS 7, allowing users to locate, lock and even wipe their iPhones remotely in the event that they are stolen. Based on that, a new report claims that the number of stolen iPhones fell significantly in major cities around the world between September 2013, when Activation Lock was introduced, and one year later.
Apple’s fabulous iPhone used to be the number one reason crime was on the rise in New York City, but now that Apple’s added Activation Lock to iOS 7, thieves have given up their iLust and are targeting Samsung phones like never before.
Just look at the sudden change in thefts in the chart below:
As the devices we likely use the most on any given day, it makes sense that our smartphones should be as personalized as possible: not necessarily in terms of the New York Knicks or Hello Kitty case we keep them in, but in terms of how much they understand us and can anticipate our behavior.
A new patent application published Thursday shows how Apple is experimenting with future iPhones and other mobile devices which can comb through the usage patterns on particular device and determine whether it is being used by its rightful owner.
There are plenty of stories about iPhone thefts causing spikes in crime statistics, but according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Apple’s introduction of an iPhone kill switch may be starting to turn around.
Measuring crime after the iPhone’s Activation Lock was first introduced in iOS 7, police in San Francisco, London, and New York claim that San Francisco robberies fell by 38 percent, London robberies by 24 percent, and New York robberies by 19 percent — while grand larcenies in NYC including the iPhone dropped 29 percent in the first five months of 2014, compared to the same time period last year.
The exploit, which is called DoulCi (“iCloud” backward), has already been used thousands of times on locked iPhones and iPads around the world. It’s the work of a pair of anonymous hackers, who cracked Apple’s theft-deterrent measure by tricking lost or stolen iOS devices into thinking they are being reactivated by Apple’s servers.
Apple is one of several tech giants to enter a voluntary agreement to add a global anti-theft “kill-switch” to their handsets from July 2015.
Other companies on board include Google, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia, and Samsung — while carriers have reportedly agreed to help “facilitate these measures.”
Apple’s support of the need for a kill-switch doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. The company added an Activation Lock with iOS 7, designed to make it tougher for thieves to use stolen iOS devices. The feature allows users to remotely locate, lock and wipe their iPhones if they are stolen.
Smartphone crime has become an epidemic. Especially in places like New York City where the crime rate went up for first time in twenty years thanks to thieves mugging people for their iPhones.
As a response to the iPhone crimewave, Apple added some significant improvements to iOS 7, including a new Activation Lock feature, but according to the New York Police Department’s new commissioner, Bill Bratton, that’s not enough. Not only that, Bratton is pretty sure Apple and other U.S. smartphone makers are in cahoots with insurance companies to make a fortune by not installing a kill switch.
Activation Lock is a new feature in iOS 7 that allows you to remotely wipe all the data on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch in case it gets lost or stolen. It’s such a great idea that 78 percent of iPhone users have it enabled.
After Activation Lock is enabled remotely, your iPhone will display a message for you with details on how to return it to you. This is a great feature.
When you get the device back, all you need to do is enter your Apple ID (and password!), and your iPhone or iPad will reactivate, give you a fully functional iOS device again without letting anyone else use it in the meantime.
When Apple first unveiled iOS 7, one of the features that made law-enforcement officials breathe a collective sigh of relief was Activation Lock, which allows users to locate, lock and wipe their iPhones remotely if they are stolen.
Activation Lock is a great system which prevents thieves from simply hard resetting an iPhone once they’ve stolen it, and considering what a big problem iPhone crime is, it’s a big step forward by Apple that helps make owning an iPhone safer all around. And it looks like it’s starting to make a difference, with a new report suggesting that almost 4 out of 5 iPhone users has it turned on.
One of Apple’s biggest antagonist regarding smartphone theft says that he’s pretty happy with the improved security features of iOS 7.
After announcing his efforts last week to test Apple’s new security lock, San Francisco District Attorney, George Gascón says that Apple’s Activation Lock is a “clear improvement” over previous solutions aimed at deterring thieves from stealing smartphones.