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Up until the recent iOS 4.2 update of Apple”˜s mobile devices, if you wanted a way to locate your lost or stolen iPhone, you had to be an MobileMe subscriber, which means forking over $99 per year. But now every owner of a mobile device can get a powerful MobileMe feature called Find My iPhone, for free by simply signing up.
As a MobileMe subscriber, I’ve used Find My iPhone for almost a year now, and though my iPhone has never been stolen, it has located the device on the floor of my car, behind my bedroom bedside table, and in the dirty clothes hamper, more than a few times. So believe me, Find My iPhone is definitely worth installing on your iPhone and/or other Apple devices.
Requirements & Setup
If you have own any model iPhone, iPad, or 4th generation iPod touch, you can use the Find My iPhone service and app.
You will need to download the free Find My iPhone app (iTunes Store link) for all your qualifying Apple iOS4 devices. If you don’t have the app on your device, then of course you can’t use the service to locate it.
Next, you need to launch the app and sign up for an Apple ID account, which also in the process registers your device. Note, if you’re a MobileMe member, you will not be able to use the other services in the control panel shown on the page, just the Find My iPhone feature.
If you’re already a MobileMe subscriber, you don’t have to sign up again for the Find My iPhone service, but you will have to go through the setup again via your devices in order to sync it with the new Find My iPhone update.
How To Use It
If your iPhone is ever lost or stolen – not just simply misplaced around the house – you will want a quick way to activate the service.
I set up a bookmark to my MobileMe account for quick access. The bookmark is not buried in a folder, for if I need a family member to download the account page, I want it to be easily and quickly found.
So when you need to use the service, you need to go to www.me.com/find and sign in.
Note: if your device does not show up on the page or if it says “Location services are disabled“, launch the Settings app of your mobile device, tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars > your email account. Then set the Find My iPhone button to on.
If your device is connected to an Edge, 3G or Wi-Fi network, a blue circle shows its estimated location on the map. A smaller circle means a more precise location.
Actions To Take
If your device is lost or stolen, you want to act quickly. You have the following options:
- Display Message or Play Sound: You can type out a message about where you can be reached for returning your device. And/or you can have a sound played on your device. The message will appear or the sound will play even if your device is locked or set to mute.
- You can also send a new passcode to your device which remotely locks it. Be sure of course to send a code that you remember so you can unlock the device after it’s retrieved.
- If you”˜re worried about someone accessing important information on your device, you can have all the data permanently deleted, which in turn restores it to factory settings. As the instructions say, “Once wiped, your iPhone (or other device) will no longer be able to display messages or be located“.
In most cases, the Find My iPhone service has located my phone in less than a minute, but one occasion it took almost ten minutes. But out of the handful of times I’ve used it, it’s never failed to locate the device.
It seems as though the now free Find My iPhone service means Apple may be in the process of making some other MobileMe features (syncing bookmarks, contacts, and data) available for free in future upgrades of their devices or the iOS. But for now, Find My iPhone is a must-have app and service – probably the best and only way for retrieving your device if it’s lost or stolen.
Apple has since combined Find My iPhone and Find My Friends to release the Find My app in iOS 13.