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The new "Find My iPhone" feature from Apple has allowed several users already to track down their iPhones, confront the crook(s) who took them and reclaim their property.  (Source: Gizmodo)
Apple scores a win with its latest innovation

The iPhone OS v3.0 officially launched last week.  Among the many improvements was beefed up security.  Along with encryption and a remote wipe option, the phone features a promising security tool called "Find my iPhone" that lets users track their lost iPhone and potentially confront the crook or crooks who took it.

The key weakness to the feature (and the remote wipe) is that it can be easily disabled by removing the SIM card, if the iPhone thief is that clever.  However, as the average episode of Cops shows you, many criminals are less than clever.

Already reports have emerged of iPhone users recovering their lost phones with the feature.  A LiveJournal user named Kevin (LJ s/n happywaffle) posted a blog bragging of such a confrontation.  He writes:
Last night, after seeing Second City improv, we ate at a pleasantly sketchy dive bar in uptown Chicago, where the food was mediocre and the characters were questionable. I definitely had my iPhone while at our table, and I definitely did NOT have it (whoops!) when we were 100 feet down the street.

I raced back into the bar, not even particularly concerned, but it was gone like baby. In less than five minutes, with very few people in the small place, my beloved JesusPhone had managed to vanish into a black hole. Our waitress was sympathetic, and I left a number, but I was immediately glum about my prospects of seeing it again.

Eventually, he describes he located the phone with the help of two friends and his laptop.  He describes the confrontation:
"Have you got it?" I asked as I marched up to the guy, acting far more intimidating than I felt. Our iPhone-pilfering friend apparently works at the sketchy bar, and as he fished around in his bag, he gave a questionable alibi about having found the phone, intending to return it, but being intimidated by "all these scary-looking messages" that kept popping up on the display. "Um, yeah, those were from me," I replied curtly. He pulled my phone out, totally unharmed, and handed it over. I resisted the urge to giggle.

I shook his hand - Lord knows why I did that - and the three of us walked off. We laughed triumphantly, adrenaline racing, feeling like the Jack Bauer trio. (Disregard the fact that we'd just left a Lego convention.)
While such confrontations are obviously problematic, as they could put the user in danger, Apple appears to have scored a win for providing users with a way to potentially recover their lost phone.  As more of users' lives, files, and personal information end up on phones, such a capability means of recovery become increasingly necessary.  And Apple and AT&T appear to have successfully provide their customers exactly that. 




"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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