The idea of the Find My iPhone feature, which allows a user to remotely track down a lost, stolen, or otherwise misplaced device, is great in theory. But as one district attorney and ex-police chief describes, a victim being able to track down and locate a thief can, in some cases, lead to a violent confrontation that puts both parties at risk of serious injury.
Telling the story of Sarah Maguire, a 26-year-old, slightly-built yoga teacher, The New York Times explains how she set about locating her stolen iPhone after a night out. As it transpired, Find My iPhone picked up the device some 30 miles away, and luckily for her, she managed to recover the handset without too much incident.
But the trouble is, in these situations, things can escalate fairly quickly, and instances of folks taking the law into their own hands have been on the rise. As noted by George Gascón, a San Francisco district attorney who used to work high up in the police, tools like Find My iPhone pave the way for vigilante-type justice, and while "Some have been successful," he says, "Others have gotten hurt."
Smartphones are like tractor beams for thieves, but the Apple iPhone has long since been the most sought after by those in search of a five-finger discount. In fact, in some nations, the latest iPhone – particularly the gold variant – has become something of a form of currency, and with the next-gen iPhone 6 set to command an even higher price thanks to the larger display, it will be interesting to see if Apple takes any steps to protect its increasingly vulnerable army of users.
The Galaxy S5, for example, takes steps to deter theft thanks to a kill-switch that can be activated to essentially brick a device that has been stolen. This is, of course, of precious little use to the victim, but it may put folks off trying to snatch the latest Samsung handset, and unless Tim Cook’s company offers a similar solution, it’s likely that an even higher percentage of Find My iPhone-related altercations will ensue.
What do you think of all this? Do you think the onus is on Apple? Share your comments below!