As its name suggests, Find My iPhone is a tracking feature to locate a missing iPhone 4, iPad or fourth-generation iPod Touch. (Only the latest models get the free feature.) If you’ve dropped your iDevice in a cab, or if someone’s stolen it, you can hop on a computer to follow the GPS coordinates of the iPhone on a Google map.
Or, if you’re just absent-minded like me and you misplace your iPhone as often as you lose your keys, you can use your computer to trigger a beeping sound to help you find it. It should be loud enough to hear from under a couch cushion.
If you do indeed think your iPhone is in the hands of a thief, you can use Find My iPhone to remotely lock the device or wipe the data. Do note, however, that if you wipe the device, you won’t be able to track it anymore.Also, a clever thief could just remove the SIM card, and you wouldn’t be able to track or wipe the phone.
You need to activate Find My iPhone before you lose your phone, so do it now. Since the steps to turn this useful feature on aren’t immediately obvious, here’s how to do it:
1. Make sure you have the latest iOS update (iOS 4.2.1) installed. Plug in your iPhone and click “Check for updates” in iTunes to get the software.
2. With iOS 4.2.1 installed, tap the Settings app on your iPhone. Then tap “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” and “Add Account.” Then choose MobileMe.
3. In the MobileMe account menu, enter your iTunes or Apple ID and password (i.e., the login you use to buy iTunes media on the iPhone).
4. The “Find My iPhone” option should appear. Slide it to “ON” to activate it.”
And you’re done! From here on, you can hop on a computer and enter www.me.com in a web browser. Then enter the same login credentials you used to register for Find My iPhone, and you’ll immediately get a GPS reading of the phone, along with a simple menu of buttons allowing you to lock, wipe, or send a message or sound to the iPhone.
Thanks to wired.com for this key information.