One of the big selling points for Apple’s MobileMe service (keeps mail, contacts, and calendar information in the cloud and uses push technology to keep everything in sync across multiple devices automatically) a couple of years back was the feature that allowed an owner of an iPhone 3G or 3GS to register his or her phone in his or her MobileMe account, then use their MobileMe portal from any internet-connected computer to find the phone. I can say from personal experience (and panic) that the service could distinguish the fact that my phone was in the car some 10 feet in front of my house, and not actually in my house (At least it was not forgotten at the gym, as I had feared). My story is one of forgetfulness, but this feature has been known to take a bite out of crime as well.
Well, Apple recently opened up the specific ‘Find my iPhone’ (and iPod Touch and iPad) feature to anyone with an iPhone 4 running the latest operating system (iOS 4.2.1). Better still, MacLife has figured out a fairly simple workaround to allow 3G/3GS iPhones to take advantage of the service as well. It won’t stop your forgetfulness, over even crime, but it might prove a phone-saver as you scuttle among your holiday parties, shopping, and travels. Let us walk you through the basics.The one requirement of any of the devices (including the older iPhones that Apple does not include in this free feature) is iOS 4.2.1, so an update of your software might be necessary. If you are shy about upgrading software, then you are probably on a Windows Machine (sorry), but when a software package enters its X.2 (or later) generation, you can bet its pretty safe – at least until the X changes to a Y. The update can take a little while (mine took about 10 minutes to download, install, and restart my phone), so work on a couple of holiday cards…
Once that update is done, go into the Settings button, and slide down to the ‘Mail, Calendar, Contacts’ section. Within that, you will be asked to assign your MobileMe account or (if you haven’t bought a $99 per annum MobileMe account) Apple ID (the one that gives you access to theand the software update that got you to this stage). Once signed in, you have the opportunity to ‘Find my i(Device).’ Slide the button to ‘Yes,’ hit save, and you’re done!
Do be aware of the fact that once your phone/pod/pad is tied to your account, you will not be asked for that password if you decide to turn the feature off. Therefore a tech-conscious thief could easily shut down your efforts to get your device back. Therefore, while in the Settings, you should also “Lock” your device, requiring a 4-number pass code to get access to the screen.
If this free feature leads to you ask how Apple could charge a substantial $99 fee for a MobileMe subscription, you should note that many other features come with that full account. Though we are not trying to sell you the subscription (Disclaimer: many of the staff at MKCREATIVE have worked for Apple Retail, though none in the past year), one of the specific advantages it offers in terms of security is that you can remotely wipe your personal data from it, if the ‘Find’ feature is on and the phone is beyond retrieving. You’re out a phone, but at least you are not in danger of your business contacts or your photos of the crazy holiday party ending up on someone’s Facebook page.
But what if you have not sprung for the latest iPhone/iPod? There’s not an app for that. But there is a workaround presented by J.R.Bookwalter at MacLife.com. You will need a friend with a newer device, with which you will sign in with your own Apple ID (According to Bookwalter, your friend’s MobileMe account needs to be temporarily closed, as it will be aware of the difference and kick back error messages). Then turn on the ‘Find’ feature of the older device. You will likely see both your older device and his/her new one.
Once the friend’s device sees/registers your older phone, you can log back intoat the computer and delete your friend’s device that your account is (also) following. Violá! Of course, you are likely also green with envy, having been seeing the features of your friend’s newer device, but that’s what Wish Lists are for.