The Apple Watch is getting some stronger security. With WatchOS 2, Apple is rolling out a feature to the smartwatch called “Activation Lock,” a protective measure long familiar to iPhone and iPad users.
By enabling the feature, Apple Watch users can prevent anyone else from using the smartwatch if it’s lost or stolen. It doesn’t stop the Apple Watch from being restored. But it does prevent a thief or any unauthorized user from activating the smartwatch without the Apple ID and password associated with it.
Apple has been using Activation Lock with its iPhones and iPads since iOS 7 in 2013. Following its implementation, iPhone thefts have dramatically declined in major cities such as New York and San Francisco, where thefts were down 25 percent and 40 percent in the first year respectively.
When the Apple Watch launched in April, users discovered that the security feature was absent from the smartwatch and that a thief could reset the watch with just a few taps -- no passcode required. Though it made it easy for prospective thieves to reset the watch for resale, it also wiped all data, including the payment card data associated with the Apple Pay contactless mobile payment feature.
The move to secure the Apple Watch comes as Apple prepares to allow developers to store and run apps on the smartwatch directly, which could result in more data left in its internal storage. In addition to Activation Lock, WatchOS 2 brings a number of new features to the Apple Watch, such as a nightstand mode, new watch faces and transit directions.