Activation Lock (iPhone screenshot 001)

At least one critic is satisfied by Apple’s efforts to slow a growing number of iPhone crimes. San Francisco’s District Attorney, who earlier called on the iPhone maker to install a so-called kill switch in its handsets, now believes a feature in the company’s upcoming iOS 7 shows “clear improvements” by the tech giant.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón made the comment Friday after testing Apple’s Activation Lock feature alongside the Absolute Software’s Lojack running on Samsung’s Galaxy S4…

“I’m very optimistic that they came and were willing to share their technology with us,” Gascón told the San Francisco Examiner.

The Activation Lock feature is part of iOS 7, expected to be released in September. Unveiled in June, Activation Lock prevents a stolen iPhone from being activated unless the thief knows the owner’s AppleID.

Last week, Gascón gathered security experts to test the features included in both the Apple and Samsung handsets. At the time, the DA said the experts would “see if [the features] stand up to the tactics commonly employed by thieves.”

In June, both the San Francisco law enforcement official and New York City Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Save Our Smartphones (S.O.S.), an initiative aimed at protecting smartphone owners from a growing trend of theft, especially iPhones.

iOS 7 activation lock

Around one in three thefts involve smartphones, according to the FCC.

While impressed with Apple’s efforts, the two men said they will not drop the topic until they get a response from Android maker Google and Windows Phone creator Microsoft. Both company have yet supplied anti-theft measures for tests, according to the report.

Along with the Activation Lock feature in iOS 7, Apple reportedly is expected to include a fingerprint sensor in its iPhone 5S, a handset many believe is up for introduction this Fall.

As smartphones become as commonplace as wallets and other everyday accessories, security must be a key feature for handset designers. Building in virtual kill-switches in phone software, as well as hardware which ties ownership to biometrics, should be seen as important first steps.

  • Mykel Monroe

    Yes, but what happens if someone restores the phone? Or better yet, enters DFU then restores? And how would this be affected by jailbreaking?

    • Chindavon

      From what I see on the iOS 7 beta, if you have your ‘Find my iPhone’ turned on, and you want to restore your iPhone, it flags you first to turn off that feature before it can proceed. Basically nothing happens untill you enter in your Apple ID for things.

      • Gorgonphone

        right so it becomes an iPod

      • Chindavon

        No it can’t. It becomes a heavy paper weight until you can get those correct credentials.

    • abdullah575

      yes I tried it !! form iOS 7 DFU restore to iOS 6 and said enter the Activation apple ID and password !!!

    • Maxim∑

      You cant bypass it through DFU, I tried it when I downgraded from Beta 2 to iOS 6 and it asked me to put in my Apple ID/turn off find my iPhone before restoring

    • BoardDWorld

      You must still enter the user ID, even when down grading.

  • Fevostone

    Ios 7 beta 4 anyone no the score..? Wen…?

    • abdullah575

      yes the next Monday !!!

      • Chindavon

        Good. beta 3 re-springs on me all the time. Plus my LTE goes on and off a lot. Need a fix.

      • Kenny Woodard

        Are you referring to a constant random crash? Where you have to hard reboot? That’s what my iPhone 4 was doing.

      • Chindavon

        No, it doesn’t crash. It looks like it’s booting, but it’s not. Comes back up in 5 seconds (booting would take longer). Happens sometimes also when I use Siri.

      • Jovani Hernandez

        Actually iOS 7 beta 4 might come in this Thursday on the 25

      • Fevostone
    • Gorgonphone

      if it still has the same ugly UI i dont care at all

  • chumawumba

    The sad thing is that most people don’t realize their iPhone is stolen soon enough. By the time they do the damage is already done and their phones are wiped and sold.

    • Chindavon

      Hard to sell an iPhone when said thief can’t activate it, nor the person he sells it to.

      • Rowan09

        Agreed it won’t stop all thieves but it will deter them since they can’t activate the phone.

      • Gorgonphone

        i have a feeling loopholes will be found…

      • Gorgonphone

        false it will become an iPod

      • Chindavon

        If someone’s iPhone gets stolen, they would typically put it in Lost Mode. Thief can’t slide to unlock without the pin u set up. Plus the messages stays on the screen that says this phone is lost. So it won’t become an iPod or an iPhone until these credentials are met.

      • Rowan09

        Always but it’s just a deterant.

  • Gorgonphone

    folks love iPhones and iPads o much they are willing to steal then any chance they get.. but now when you steel and iPhone it will only be useful as an ipod..

    • Chindavon

      Nope. It won’t be able to use that as an iPod either.

      • Gorgonphone

        oh wow really? well then this feature needs to be heavily publicized so that thieves stop taking the device..

      • Chindavon

        Thieves may start stealing a few then finally realize it’s not worth it. Hopefully that’s enough to bring those theft numbers down.

  • RV

    Hooray for having your iOS7-operated devices an activation lock!!
    Note: Turn on your “Find My iPhone” setting so activate the lock! m/