Yesterday, buried amongst updates to a slew of Apple developed apps, was an update to Find My iPhone. With the update comes a new look and feel, that’s similar to Find My Friends, and a new Lost Mode to help track down lost iCloud-enabled devices.
Apple has made it really simple to go about tracking a lost device, protecting the data from prying eyes, and communicating with whomever may have found said device.
Check inside, as we go hands-on with the new Find My iPhone.
The nice thing about Find My iPhone, is that as long as you have the service enabled in the iCloud settings for each device, it’s easily trackable via another iOS device, or a web browser on the desktop.
That’s why it’s imperative to always be sure to enable iCloud and Find My iPhone whenever you restore your device. It could be the difference between finding a lost device, or losing it and lacking the means to recover it, even if it lands in honest hands.
To make sure Find My iPhone is activated on your device, go to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone.
After installing the Find My iPhone app, sign in, and you’ll be presented with a list of all of the devices linked to your iCloud account as well as a map giving you a pretty precise idea of where your devices are. If you have a lot of devices, than that list can get pretty long.
Each device contained within the list has a colored dot next to it on the left. If that dot is greyed out, then Find My iPhone was not able to locate that device. There could be many reason for this, perhaps the device has exhausted its battery life, it doesn’t have an Internet connection, or the device was turned off.
If the bubble next to the device is green, then you’re in business. This means that Find My iPhone was able to track the device via GPS or Wi-Fi triangulation. Tap the device to load the info page for that device. This provides a map of the device’s location, along with several additional options.
The info page allows you to perform a variety of Actions on the missing device. Tap the Actions button at the bottom of the screen. From there, you can play a sound to help track the device — this is good if you’ve just misplaced it somewhere around the house. You can also enable Lost Mode, or erase the contents of the device.
In the lower right-hand corner of the info page, is an ” i ” icon that allows you to adjust the map views. The view defaults to standard view, but you can switch to Satellite, or Hybrid, just like you can with Apple Maps.
The Play Sound option is very straightforward. Simply tap the Play Sound button, and the device will make an audible beep in order to help find it under a couch cushion, or what have you. Even if the device is muted, or its volume is turned down, the device will still beep loudly.
Along with the audible alert, a message appears on the device, notifying whoever finds it that an alert was purposely sent out. You’ll also receive an email sent to the email address used to create the iCloud account.
The Erase iPhone feature, like the Play Sound option, is straightforward and to the point. Tapping erase invokes a popup verifying whether or not you actually want to erase the device. All of your content and settings will be erased, and of course this means that you can no longer track where the device is. I’d suggest only using this as an absolute last resort, or if you’re worried about sensitive data potentially being compromised.
Fortunately, you must verify the erase procedure by entering in your iCloud password before proceeding. I’m thankful for this, because I inadvertently tapped erase on my iPhone as I was preparing this article.
Finally, let’s talk about the meat and potatoes of the new Find My iPhone — the Lost Mode. Lost Mode, enables you to protect, track, and communicate with your device, with the hopes of recovering it in one piece.
When you first tap the Lost Mode button, you’ll be prompted to lock your device by entering a passcode.
Next, you’ll be asked to enter a phone number where you can be reached. This will, in turn, be displayed on the Lock screen of the lost device.
Lastly, you’re asked to enter a message that will be shown alongside the phone number. That way you can alert the person who recovers the device as to your circumstances. This might be a great spot to state that there will be a reward for safe recovery.
It should be noted, that both the phone number and the message are optional, though it would probably be smart if you used them to your advantage. After Lost Mode is enabled, you should receive an email message to the email address assigned to your iCloud account.
The nice thing about Lost Mode is that once it’s on, you can always go back and modify the phone number or the message. This can be done by simply tapping the Lost Mode button, once your device is already in Lost Mode.
There’s also a provision to enable email updates when the location of the device changes; perfect for tracking down a stolen device. And if you give up on your search, you may also stop Lost Mode via this section as well.
Here’s a question, what if the lost device is powered off when you enable Lost Mode? The answer: the device goes into pending mode, and will be locked down as soon as its online and capable of being polled by iCloud; handy, indeed.
Overall, I found the new Find My iPhone app to be a good looking, and well performing overhaul to the original version. The new Lost Mode is simple, and easy to figure out, and most importantly, it’s accurate, and it works.
I highly recommend that everyone who owns an iOS device, or a Mac, enable the Find My Device option in the iCloud settings. Chances are, you’ll never need to use it, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
What do you think about the revamped Find My iPhone? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.