Believe me stealing iPhones is a waste of time these days if owners use passwords or fingerprint protection (and the FBI knows it well), but Apple might soon be making it impossible for someone to walk away with the phone without getting caught.
The company has patented a new technology that essentially keeps Find My iPhone active even when the device is turned off, so you can locate a stolen iPhone quite easily.
First of all, some context. Find My iPhone is a feature that allows owners to locate their phones from their iCloud accounts, but the whole functionality is lost once the device is powered off and the SIM is removed. Couple this with an iPhone that lacks password protection and you get quite a loot, especially given how much an iPhone 7 costs these days.
But Apple’s patent US20160323703 proposes a more advanced version of Find My iPhone that can work regardless of the state of the phone, so you can locate an iPhone no matter what the thief attempts to do.
Running in an unpowered state
As CultOfMac notes, the patent reveals that iPhones could come with a dedicated timer that automatically kicks in and turns on Find My iPhone every once in a while to send location data to the owner. This doesn’t mean that the iPhone is powered on, but only using an unpowered state, with extremely low battery impact, so Find My iPhone can work even when the device almost runs out of battery.
Find My iPhone could send location information using this new system via email or text if a SIM is still available, but it could also connect to known Wi-Fi networks to get Internet access. Furthermore, Apple could improve the feature by allowing it to connect to public wireless networks that do not require a password, but this is an idea that the company is probably still considering given the security risks.
For the moment, this technology is still in patent stage, but it simply makes sense for Apple to offer it on future iPhones and we really wouldn’t be surprised to see it available on the next-generation model coming in 2017.