One major feature introduced with iOS 7, the latest available version of Apple’s mobile operating system, was the ‘Activation Lock’. It may not be the most exciting for the consumer, but it looks like it’s shaping up to be one of the most important.
The feature allows users to remotely wipe and disable their iOS device (iPhone, iPod or iPad). Should they wish to re-activate it, they have to enter the email address and password that was used to disable it in the first place. The idea was to help make stolen devices harder to sell on, or ideally reduce thefts in general – and it’s working.
Reported iPhone thefts in London have fallen by 24%, and in San Francisco they’ve fallen by 38%. This is when comparing the six months surrounding the feature’s launch in 2014, versus the same six-month period in 2013. In New York, reported thefts dropped 19% and reports of grand larceny (wherein the value of goods stolen is over $1,000 i.e. more than one iOS device) were down 29%.
This news is all the more welcome as legislators in the United States have recently passed a law determining that all devices must implement a similar feature from July 2015 onwards. Apple, Samsung, HTC, Nokia, Motorola, Google and Huawei have all already signed on to the idea. Estimates reckon that the scheme could save up to $2.5bn a year in replacement costs.