Surveillance coming to Find My iPhone?

Apple is looking at new ways to detect unauthorized iOS usage while providing the user with more control of how an iOS device can be used when reported lost or stolen.

I was intrigued when I read about some cool new features that may be coming soon to Apple's Find My iPhone feature on MacRumors. Having lost and recovered my iPhone after an incident in Orlando* thanks to Find My iPhone, I'm a little extra sensitive to the issue.

If your not familiar, Find My iPhone is a free feature for anyone with an iPhone 4, iPad, or 4th generation iPod touch that allows you to locate your device via GPS simply by going to me.com/find. It's an extremely powerful feature that you need to enable right away if you haven't already. Take it from me, it can save you a lot of money and grief.

Patently Apple uncovered a new Apple patent application that details some new security features that could be coming soon to Find My iPhone. According to the application, Apple is looking at new ways to detect unauthorized usage while providing the user with much more control of how an iOS device can be used when reported lost or stolen.

Some of the features mentioned in the application:

  • Proactively increase the security level on an iOS device if multiple failed password attempts are detected. Under the increased security level, files or other content stored on the mobile device could be selectively protected.
  • Change to surveillance mode where the mobile device records or captures information associated with one or more of user actions, ambient sound, images, a trajectory of the device, and transmits the recorded or captured information to the network resource.
  • Allow users to selectively wipe or scramble sensitive content (i.e. emails, contacts and passwords). This avoids have to completely wipe your device remotely and increasing its chances of recovery.
  • Allow users to selectively enable/disable access to certain features and capabilities on a lost or stolen device. For example, you could turn off features like phone calls, texting, cellular data and VPN, but turn on a simple "Contact John Smythe" button (pictured) to enable its return.

These new features can't come soon enough for me and I hope that they show up in iOS 5.0. Find My iPhone is the first thing that I enable on a new device.

Will Apple turn the iPhone into an iCloud-controlled Tazer? Maybe the iPhone 5 will be able to release tear gas?

*Here's a trio of posts about my iPhone's loss (and eventual return), which I refer to as The Orlando Incident.

Tip: Patently Apple, via MacRumors