CONSUMERS here are giving the thumbs-up to iPhone’s new security feature, but some said it is “long overdue” and want telcos to do more to protect users from smartphone thieves.
Apple on Monday unveiled its latest mobile operating system, iOS 7, which will include an “activation lock” feature that renders a phone inoperable when a thief attempts to turn off the Find My iPhone application in the phone.
Find My iPhone has so far been iPhone users’ main protection by letting users locate their missing device on a map, remotely set a passcode lock, and delete data from it. But savvy thieves routinely turn off the Find My iPhone feature and reset the phone.
So “activation lock” plugs the gap by locking out the thief if he cannot first supply an Apple account ID and password.
Engineer John Wong, 35, said the feature is good at deterring thieves and the thriving iPhone black market. He has lost at least two phones in the past two years.
Developer Joash Chee, 37, said that the activation lock feature is “long overdue”. “It’s so easy to circumvent the Find My iPhone feature without activation lock. So really, activation lock will enhance Find My iPhone,” he said.
Freelance writer Jimmy Yap, 44, thinks that telcos should also play an active role to protect victims of stolen phones. Consumers should be able to instruct their telco to “blacklist” a stolen or lost phone by its International Mobile Equipment Identity (Imei) number, said Mr Yap.
When contacted, SingTel, StarHub and M1 said that there is no Imei registry maintained by telcos in most mobile markets including in Singapore, but they did not explain why.
The police, however, hold a database of Imei numbers of phones that have been reported stolen or lost which buyers of second-hand phones can check against.
The lock was just one of many new features in the new iOS 7 mobile operating system introduced by Apple at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in the US on Monday.
The new iOS 7, which will be available as a free upgrade for select iPhone and iPad models, likely this August, will sport a much cleaner design with thinner typography, sleeker lines and a brighter colour palette – similar to what is seen on the latest Android and Windows devices.
New to iOS 7 are also several features including Control Centre – a dashboard that will allow users to change screen brightness or play a song for example. A function where users can share photos wirelessly and directly between mobile devices will also be added.
The design refresh is Apple’s “biggest change” to iOS since it was launched in 2007 for the iPhone, said Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook.
“I think the new iOS design will make a lot of existing users feel like they have a brand new phone,” said Mr Muh Hon Cheng, a Singapore developer of apps like SG NextBus, who was at WWDC.
Also brand new is iTunes Radio – Apple’s attempt at joining the music streaming race. Built into its music software, the service allows users to create “stations” based on artistes or music genres, similar to services like Pandora. It will initially be available first in the US later this year.
Apple also showcased its upcoming OS X Mavericks operating system for its Mac computers. The new operating system will bring apps like Maps and iBooks, which were previously available only on its mobile devices, to the desktop. It also gave a sneak peek of the new Mac Pro desktop, which came in a sleek black cylindrical chassis. Apple’s line of ultralight MacBook Air laptops also got an update with better processors and longer battery lives.
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on June 12, 2013. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.