updated 02:30 am EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
Police in New York City, London, San Francisco report precipitous drops in thefts
Apple's introduction of Activation Lock as a iOS security feature in iOS 7 has already proven wildly successful in just the first six months of its implementation, reports The New York Times. While the feature does not actually prevent a thief from taking an iPhone, it greatly reduces the chance of it being re-sold or re-used by others, leading to a significant drop in thefts. Statistics from New York, London and San Francisco report iPhone thefts down between 19 and 38 percent.
According to the paper, New York City police say thefts involving Apple devices have dropped by 19 percent in the first half of 2014, compared to the same period a year ago, before iOS 7 came out. Police in London and San Francisco each studied theft rates dropping in the six months following the introduction of Activation Lock versus the six months before it came out, and report drops of 24 and 38 percent, respectively. Smartphone thefts, particularly of the highly-desirable iPhone, are among the top robbery-oriented crimes in the United States.
In addition to crediting features like Activation Lock, some of the drop can be attributed to the rapid adoption of iOS 7 by users, a key feature that has proven itself to have numerous advantages for customers and developers alike. Because Activation Lock is turned on by default when users enable Find My iPhone in iOS 7, most iPhone users have the feature in place even if they are unaware of it.
"With Activation Lock, your Apple ID and password will be required before anyone can: turn off Find My iPhone on your device, erase your device, or reactivate and use your device," Apple says in its tech note on the topic. "This can help you keep your device secure, even if it is in the wrong hands, and can improve your chances of recovering it. Even if you erase your device remotely, Activation Lock can continue to deter anyone from reactivating your device without your permission. All you need to do is keep Find My iPhone turned on, and remember your Apple ID and password."
The feature effectively renders stolen iPhones useless for re-activation and re-sale (other than for parts), removing much of the motivation for stealing the devices. Recently, other smartphone manufacturers and carriers along with Apple agreed to implement a similar feature in all new mobile phones.