The “Activation Lock,” a new anti-theft feature included in Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) latest iOS 7 operating system, was scheduled to go through a government-sponsored test by security experts in San Francisco on Thursday, to determine how capable the feature is of thwarting smartphone-related crimes.
“During a meeting today in San Francisco, technical experts – including representatives from the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC) – will be given an Apple iPhone 5 with a new anti-theft security feature known as ‘Activation Lock’ enabled and a Samsung Galaxy s4 with a new anti-theft security feature known as ‘Lojack for Android’ enabled,” a statement on the official website of New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, said.
The statement said that both smartphones would be treated as if they were stolen by thieves, and attempts would be made to circumvent their in-built anti-theft features. The results of the tests are expected to be released on Friday, CNET reported.
George Gascón, San Francisco’s district attorney, reportedly met with an Apple executive to discuss the increasing threat of cell-phone thefts and how the company could improve its theft-deterrent technology.
Apple responded in June by introducing the Activation Lock feature in the iOS 7, which requires a valid Apple ID and password for turning off the “Find My iPhone” option on the handset, failing which the phone can be traced to its current location. In addition, even after a remote erase, Find My iPhone can continue to display a message with the user’s phone number on the iPhone’s Lock screen.
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In the Samsung (KRX:005930) Galaxy S4’s case, experts would evaluate “Lojack for Android,” a $29.99 a year application that allows users to remotely lock the phone and delete personal data.
“While we are appreciative of the efforts made by Apple and Samsung to improve security of the devices they sell, we are not going to take them at their word,” Gascón and Schneiderman said in a joint statement on Thursday. “Today we will assess the solutions they are proposing and see if they stand up to the tactics commonly employed by thieves.”
Thursday’s inspection was part of Gascón and Schneiderman’s Secure Our Smartphone initiative, which brings state and federal security experts together to test security features on new smartphones recently introduced by Apple and Samsung.
“Finding technical solutions that will remove the economic value of stolen smartphones is critical to ending the national epidemic of violent street crimes commonly known as ‘Apple Picking’,” the two officials said.
According to a recent report from the Federal Communications Commission, roughly 113 smartphones are stolen or lost each minute in the U.S., and many of those thefts turn violent or deadly.
Apple unveiled the iOS 7 at this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June, with a release date expected later this fall. The new OS is likely to debut with the company’s upcoming iPhone 5S, which is rumored to feature a built-in fingerprint sensor, as an extra security feature.