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Find My iPhone

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This one made the internet rounds a couple of days ago, but in case you missed the story, I’ll pass it on. (Hat tip: Sullivan.) Background first. Apple released the new iPhone operating system, version 3.0, last Wednesday. It had been announced months ago, with many long-overdue features, such as cut-and-paste editing, getting the screen to rotate 90 degrees in the email and text programs so the wider keyboard would show up on the screen, and a voice memo program.

I woke up last Wednesday and immediately tried to update the iPhone, but the new operating system wasn’t available yet. I kept checking for the update, until I wrote to Joel and he told me it wasn’t due up until 10AM PDT. At 10, it still wasn’t available, so I gave up for a while, but at 11 it was, and I eagerly downloaded it. I also read about some of the features and discovered one that is available for subscribers to Apple’s MobileMe, the cloud-computing system through which one can sync calendar and contact programs on multiple computers plus the iPhone as well as use those programs on any computer via a browser. It’s the Find My iPhone feature. You have to go to your MobileMe account to turn it on. But once it’s on, you can do some cool things.

First, from any computer anywhere, you can sign into your account and ask it to find your iPhone. It will use the built-in GPS and cell tower triangulating features to show you the location of the phone on a map, in the way it does when you’re using the phone itself. Of course, it doesn’t pinpoint the location. It just shows the location within a circle of varying radius. But if you arrive home without your phone, you could use this feature, see that it’s in the neighborhood where you just had dinner, and figure out that you must have left it in the restaurant as opposed to your office. Next, you can have the phone ring or send text messages to it. The ringing will work even if you have turned the sound off. The text message could say please return the phone to me, or contact me, or there’s a reward, or whatever. Finally, if you realize the phone will never be recovered, you can send a signal to have its data wiped, so no one will be able to see the data. Features one never wants to use, but it’s good to know they’re there, and it makes our MobileMe subscription all the more valuable.

Okay, so that’s that. Now the story. This guy Kevin was in Chicago attending a Lego convention last weekend. One night, after seeing Second City, he and some friends ate at a bar. Upon leaving, he realized his iPhone was missing. He tells the story of how he managed to track it down that night and the next day in his blog post. The story is short, and I don’t want to spoil it, so just go read it.

Our hero has a follow-up post in which he muses about his new-found fame. You’ll also find a link to some of his Lego work, including the USS Enterprise pictured above.

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Categories: Computing, Travel
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