Apple recently added a new tool to its growing collection of online security tools for iCloud users. This new tool allows users to check and determine whether an iOS device is currently protected via the Find my iPhone Activation Lock initiative.
In other words, it’ll allow you to find out whether the device you might be going out to buy is stolen or not by checking whether the device is locked by iCloud.
Introduced with the release of iOS 7, Activation Lock is kind of a “kill switch” by Apple which prevents theft and protects lost iOS devices by locking out users and making the device completely useless.
When activated, the feature prevents nefarious users from disabling Find My iPhone, performing a data wipe or reactivating the device under a different name. To regain access, you need to enter the Apple ID and password associated with that specific device.
When implemented, the Activation Lock was actually lauded by many security officials worldwide, as it led to a massive reduction in iPhone-related thefts all around the globe.
And while the tool is undoubtedly a great thing for a majority of iOS users, one of its biggest downsides is the inability for a new user to actually use the device if the previous owner left Find my iPhone enabled on the device.
Many users, once they find out that their iOS device has been stolen, completely erase it from iCloud to prevent data theft. The erasing of a device leads to the Activation Lock to come into place, forcing you to enter the Apple ID and password associated with that device to regain access.
What Apple’s Activation Lock Status tool actually does is checks the status of this Activation lock on a device. If the Activation Lock has been enabled, chances are the device you’re looking to buy is stolen (or that the previous user didn’t deactivate the Activation lock before selling it to you).
To use the Activation Lock Status tool, users are asked to enter an iOS device’s IMEI or serial number, which is then cross-checked with Apple’s internal database to ensure that Activation Lock is not currently turned on for that device.
The process has become really useful for those purchasing second-hand iOS devices who need the security feature disabled to gain access to the device.
As a precautionary measure, Activation Lock is turned on by default with Apple’s latest iOS 8, together with a new feature called “Send Last Location,” which pushes out an iPhone or iPad’s last known coordinates before its battery dies.