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Find My

Find My

Last updated: 3 weeks ago

Find My is an app for iPhone, iPad, and Mac that locates devices and people. It allows users to track, lock, play sounds from, and erase lost devices. With permission, it also shows locations of friends or family. Previously existing as separate apps, all of Apple's Find My applications merged into a single app in 2019.

● Finding lost devices
● Tracking friends and family
● Device locking and wiping
● Playing sounds for nearby items
● Rumored AirTags support


Find My is an Apple service that locates devices and, for those who give permission, people in your life. Before iOS 13, Apple had split the service into separate apps: Find My iPhone (or iPad or Mac) and Find My Friends. The service works with iOS and iPadOS devices, Mac, Apple Watch, and AirPods.

Apple's Find My is an app for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and the web at iCloud.com. The service helps you locate lost devices and keep track of friends and family. It offers different options for finding, locking, or erasing a misplaced device. There is a more limited Find People app for Apple Watch.

Starting in iOS 13 and macOS Catalina, Apple merged its device- and people-tracking services into one app.

Find My iPhone

iPhone lost-device settings iPhone lost-device settings

Perhaps the most crucial location-tracking feature, Find My iPhone helps users track down a lost handset. If you misplace your iPhone, you can sign into the service on either the web or another Apple device using your Apple ID. You'll then see a map showing you the current or last-known location of the lost iPhone.

Find My iPhone was previously a separate app. The service debuted in 2010 as part of the now-defunct MobileMe service. When iCloud launched in 2011, Apple integrated Find My iPhone into Apple's cloud service, and it became free for all iPhone owners. In 2019, it merged with Apple's other device- and friend-locating applications into a single app.

Features

The Find My service supports the full range of Apple products The Find My service supports the full range of Apple products

Find My helps you keep tabs on your Apple devices and friends who have permitted you to track their location. When you log into the app, it shows a map with all the devices and people you have set up for tracking.

When tapping on a device, you'll see options to play a sound, get directions towards it, mark as lost, or erase.

Activation Lock

Activation Lock prevents anyone else from using or resetting your iPhone until entering your Apple ID Activation Lock prevents anyone else from using or resetting your iPhone until entering your Apple ID

Activation Lock prevents anyone else from using or selling your Apple device. Whenever you turn on Find My on an Apple device, Activation Lock automatically activates.

When Activation Lock is on, nobody can erase or reactivate the Apple device without entering your Apple ID and password.

Playing a Sound

Demonstrating playing a sound on an Apple Watch Demonstrating playing a sound on an Apple Watch

Playing a sound will emit audio from the lost device. Apple included this feature for situations where you think you lost an Apple device in the same space as you. It will play a loud noise to help you locate it, for example, in a couch cushion or under a blanket.

Playing a sound works with iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch, Mac, and AirPods.

Directions

Device options, including directions Device options, including directions

Getting directions is best for devices you left behind in an entirely different space. Selecting this option will open Apple Maps and plot a route to the lost device.

Getting directions isn't the best option for stolen devices. Calling the police is safer and smarter than directly approaching a stranger who stole your device.

Lost Mode

If you put the device in Lost Mode, it will immediately lock out other users and begin tracking its location. Lost Mode also gives you the option to show a custom message on the lost device's Lock Screen, perhaps supplying a phone number to call. Nobody without your Apple ID login info will be able to unlock it, log in, or access your data.

Lost Mode and displaying a message are compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch, and Mac.

Erase

Setting up a lost device for wiping Setting up a lost device for wiping

The app's final device option is to erase the lost Apple product. Whereas Lost Mode will lock others out while maintaining your encrypted data, erase will wipe the device's memory. It will then restore to its factory settings. Unless you also remove the device from your iCloud account, Activation Lock will remain on following the reset, and nobody else will be able to log in.

Erase is compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch, and Mac.

Offline Tracking

If the lost device no longer has internet access, Apple included a feature that calls on a network of nearby Apple devices to transmit their location to you. This happens silently in the background, and it's fully encrypted. Nobody else knows their devices are relaying the location, nor can they see your location or other data.

Offline tracking uses Bluetooth and doesn't require Wi-Fi or cellular data. It won't work if someone powered it down, turned on Airplane Mode, or manually disabled Bluetooth.

Third-Party Devices

In iOS 14, third-party developers can optionally integrate their devices into the app In iOS 14, third-party developers can optionally integrate their devices into the app

In iOS 14, Apple added an option for third-party developers to integrate their location-tracking devices into the Find My app.

Soon after, an anonymous developer leaked documents revealing the program's restrictions. The first major limitation is that users will not be able to use competing services while using the app. Developers are also required to ask a user for consent before obtaining their location, which is essential for tracking items. This is a hindrance for third-party trackers like Tile, which has yet to integrate into the Find My app.

People Finding

In addition to devices, Apple's app lets you locate people who have permitted you to track them In addition to devices, Apple's app lets you locate people who have permitted you to track them

Find My Friends debuted in iOS 5 as a separate app that either temporarily or indefinitely tracked friends' and family members' locations. Today, it is in the People tab in the Find My app.

To offer location access to friends and family, go to the People tab, and choose "Start Sharing Location." Next, enter a friend's contact info with whom you want to share your location. You can choose to share your location for an hour, a day, or continuously. You can also share your location through the Messages app. In the messaging chat, tap on the person's contact picture, then "info," and then "Share my location." This works for both iMessage and SMS chats.

When you share your location, your friend has the option to share their location back. You can only request someone else's location after first sharing yours with them.

The app also allows you to set up notifications for when friends leave or arrive at a specific place. You can use this for tracking when a child arrives at or leaves school.

What's Next

Apple's rumored AirTags tracking devices Apple's rumored AirTags tracking devices

Apple's AirTags are rumored location-tracking gadgets, similar to Tile trackers, that you can attach to things like keys, luggage, or a wallet. When AirTags launch, you will use the Find My app to track their locations.

In March, leaked code from an early build of iOS 14 suggested Apple is experimenting with an AR mode for locating devices. This mode would display a representation of the device in augmented reality on another device's screen. This option didn't make it into any available versions of iOS 14. If this feature ever came to fruition, it would likely also work on the rumored Apple Glass.

Future updates to Find My could include a feature to track when a user arrives at a location, if they are late, and when they leave. This would be useful for keeping track of kids arriving and leaving school.

 
 

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