Apple announced at a conference in San Francisco today that the company will be including software in its new operating system that will make it harder for thieves to resell stolen smartphones.
The announcement at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference revealed that the new iOS 7 coming this fall will include “activation lock” technology requiring the initial user’s Apple ID and password to turn off the Find My iPhone app or to or reactivate the phone.
Users who lose their iPhone or have it stolen can also display a custom message on the phone’s screen with their phone number and a request to return the phone.
The company said in a statement on its website that the new technology will “make it harder for anyone who’s not you to use or sell your device.”
The announcement comes just days before Apple was set to meet with other smartphone manufacturers at a summit organized by top San Francisco and New York law enforcement officials.
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The meeting, scheduled for Thursday with San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the manufacturers, will be about how to curb the rising trend of smartphone thefts, which has been dubbed “Apple-picking.”
San Francisco police estimate that roughly half of all street robberies in the city target cellphones.
Gascon has criticized Apple and other manufacturers for not doing enough to prevent the thefts, saying the technological fix is simple and would reduce the incentive to steal the phones.
Gascon and Schneiderman made a joint statement today about Apple’s announcement regarding the new security measures.
“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 pair said.
“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,” Gascon and Schneiderman said.
Thursday’s “Smartphone Summit” will take place in Schneiderman’s office in New York City.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News