MobileMe pushes out new Find My iPhone, Remote Wipe service

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Announced at WWDC, Apple's new Find My iPhone and Remote Wipe services went online today with the warning that high traffic to the site might slow or prevent access for users trying it out on launch day. The site appears to be up intermittently and yet not actually functional yet.



Accessible to MobileMe subscribers under the Account icon, and therefore within the portion of MobileMe that is SSL encrypted, the Find My iPhone and Remote Wipe page was intermittently unavailable to some users today, who temporarily received the notice "MobileMe Account is currently unavailable. We apologize for this service interruption and are working hard to resolve the problem."



Subsequent attempts to access the new site were successful by late morning however.



Last year, Apple rolled out an ambitious suite of web apps and push messaging features while rechristening its .Mac service as MobileMe in conjunction with the iPhone 2.0 launch. The result was a black eye for the new service, as users experienced delays and problems significant enough for Apple CEO Steve Jobs to offer apologies and free subscription extensions for members.



Since then, the MobileMe service has steadily improved, still lacking in some areas such as SSL encryption for all messaging features, but in many respects leading the industry in cloud services and push messaging. Apple is the only company with a significant paid subscriber base among consumers, with Microsoft and others struggling to float free-for-now services that offer much less.



This year, the standout features added to MobileMe have the potential to dramatically boost the reputation of the service and polish the iPhone with further differentiation, as long as the company can roll them out without the outages and problems of the previous launch.



Find My iPhone



Using the new MobileMe features requires activating the service on an iPhone running the new iPhone 3.0 software. Because the service is based on Apple's standards-based XMPP/PubSub Push Notification Server, the push messages it uses work as instant messaging pings rather than SMS messages. This allows it to work on both iPhones and the iPod touch when connected to WiFi access; it uses but does not require mobile phone service.



To obtain the iPhone's location, the MobileMe site sends a push notification alert to the iPhone or iPod touch. The device then obtains its current coordinates from Location Services using GPS, cell tower, and/or WiFi base station triangulation and reports this to MobileMe, which presents the location on a map to authenticated subscribers.



After activating the Find My iPhone feature from the MobileMe push settings (shown below) buried on under Settings / Mail, Contacts, Calendars as an account configuration, a visit to the MobileMe site still maintained that the location of the phone was not available. "Your iPhone is not connected to a data network, or does not have Push enabled," the site reported confidently. The Update Location button used to send an update ping was disabled.







Display a Message or Play a Sound



A second button, Display a Message, was not disabled. That feature allows users to "write a message that will appear on your iPhone's screen. You can also play a sound on your iPhone, even if it is in silent mode."



The sheet presented to enter your message, limited to 160 characters, also offers to force the lost iPhone to play a sound for 2 minutes (below).



After sending a test message, the MobileMe site reported a notice saying, "your message was sent at 11:57 AM on June 17, 2009. A confirmation email will be sent to you when the message has been displayed on the device." A half an hour later, the configured iPhone still hadn't received the message and no emails were received either.







Hey is this workin?



The iPhone had just been updated to the new 3.0 software, and still wasn't receiving the usual push notifications for emails, so we tried a restart of the phone. As soon as it came back up, the phone reported "an important message" and it wasn't an SMS: it was the "Hey is this workin?" that we'd sent from MobileMe, apparently the first push notification message this phone had ever received.



When we logged back into MobileMe, the map now displayed our current location although the site reported the location current "as of 2:12 PM," approximately an hour and a half ahead of our actual location on the West Coast. This is odd because MobileMe knows our local time zone and reports other messages using the correct time, such as the time messages were sent to the phone.



We also received our notification email with the message and the time stamps of both when it had been sent and when it had been delivered to the iPhone, both of which were accurate to the local time zone. The message had taken about 40 minutes, but that's because the phone sat there needing to be reset. A second test message was received within seven minutes minutes.







Remote Wipe



A third button, Remote Wipe, says it "will permanently delete all media and data on your iPhone, restoring it to factory settings. This will not suspend your wireless service. Once wiped, your iPhone will no longer be able to display messages or be located".



Apple's support page notes "If the iPhone or iPod touch is online (turned on and connected to a data network such as Edge, 3G, or Wi-Fi), information deletion begins within seconds, and a confirmation email that the remote wipe has begun is sent to your MobileMe email account. If the iPhone or iPod touch is offline (not turned on or not connected to a data network), the information will be deleted the next time the device is online."



The site also points out, "If you later find your iPhone or iPod touch after it has been erased, you can restore your information by connecting the device to your computer and restoring it from a previous backup using iTunes." The page also warned, "If you don?t expect to later find your iPhone, you should suspend your wireless service through your wireless service provider. If you don?t, you?ll continue to be responsible for any phone calls or other charges incurred."



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    chronsterchronster Posts: 1,894member
    Someone test the remote wipe and make sure it's working...
  • Reply 2 of 30
    buzdotsbuzdots Posts: 449member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by chronster View Post


    Someone test the remote wipe and make sure it's working...



    Well the "Find my iPhone" works like a charm!
  • Reply 3 of 30
    im interested in this but there are no decent mobile me usernames left I wish they'd purge the unpaid accounts to free up some names
  • Reply 4 of 30
    chronsterchronster Posts: 1,894member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bluedalmatian View Post


    im interested in this but there are no decent mobile me usernames left I wish they'd purge the unpaid accounts to free up some names



    Try clownPenis.fart
  • Reply 5 of 30
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by chronster View Post


    Try clownPenis.fart



    Now then, boys...
  • Reply 6 of 30
    Does anyone know where the notification setting are because i can't find them anywhere?
  • Reply 7 of 30
    Wow, this thread descended quickly...



    Anyway, I tested out the message system straight after turning on Find My iPhone, and it came through almost instantly... the location feature worked pretty well too, although I had to leave the iPhone near a window to allow it to pick up a GPS signal in order for it to pinpoint a location that was more precise than a few mile radius.



    Even when the iPhone itself had located its position with certainty by GPS, the display on me.com wasn't giving me results tight enough to pinpoint it to a single house on my street.



    I'm not about to try the remote wipe, I just got this phone how I like it...
  • Reply 8 of 30
    buzdotsbuzdots Posts: 449member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheInferno View Post


    Does anyone know where the notification setting are because i can't find them anywhere?



    Setup and locator is done thru MobileMe - activation is on the phone itself.
  • Reply 9 of 30
    abster2coreabster2core Posts: 2,501member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheInferno View Post


    Does anyone know where the notification setting are because i can't find them anywhere?



    Best place for how to is Apple's site at http://www.apple.com/mobileme/tutorials/#remote-wipe



    The settings are in you MobileMe or .Mac account settings.



    Good luck.



    Found my iPhone. Swipe was fast. Reloaded beautifully. Then I got a confirmation on my .Mac email account



    P.S. Showed my wife. Her response,
    "Great, now I have to listen to that damn thing every morning while you are trying to find it. Too bad you can't tether your car keys and a shotgun to it. That way you can kill three birds with one phone."
    P.P.S. That is why I love her. Great sense of humour.
  • Reply 10 of 30
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bluedalmatian View Post


    im interested in this but there are no decent mobile me usernames left I wish they'd purge the unpaid accounts to free up some names



    Unfortunately they have a policy of never re-using a name and they stick to it like glue. I joined on the first day but after about a year forgot about it and forgot my password and tried many many times to get them to re-set it but they just wouldn't. Only the chance event of finding a text file on an old hard drive with my password in it saved the situation.



    Another thing to consider is that some of the "good" names are not so good in practice. Mine for instance is a very short one that is also a common noun. For that reason I get a *lot* of spam and tons of misdirected mail by people using autocomplete (and not paying attention), in their email clients.
  • Reply 11 of 30
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheInferno View Post


    Does anyone know where the notification setting are because i can't find them anywhere?



    It's in "Mail and Contacts" for some reason.
  • Reply 12 of 30
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    I can't wait to find my Touchus.
  • Reply 13 of 30
    irelandireland Posts: 17,538member
    Nice pool
  • Reply 14 of 30
    grlymgrlym Posts: 20member
    ha ha, you're using an aerial of Steve Job's abandoned Woodside house for the target for finding your iPhone !http://forums.appleinsider.com/images/smilies/lol.gif
  • Reply 15 of 30
    robb01robb01 Posts: 148member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    I can't wait to find my Touchus.



    heh



    ____________________

  • Reply 16 of 30
    In testing the message sending to my iPhone they messages have been popping up on the phone within about 10 seconds. Coincidentally the message arrives at the same time as the confirmation email from MobileMe.
  • Reply 17 of 30
    8corewhore8corewhore Posts: 833member
    "Once wiped, your iPhone will no longer be able to display messages or be located".



    That's terrible!! You want to wipe it to protect your privacy - but then you want to proceed in trying to locate it. Fix this Apple!
  • Reply 18 of 30
    sinxsinx Posts: 4member
    I was able to access this the night of WWDC with 3.0 GM? Am I missing something here?
  • Reply 19 of 30
    scottjscottj Posts: 1member
    I tested the remote wipe. It did immediately reset the iPhone, and send me an email that the phone had been wiped. The email said it takes up to 2 hours to reset, and during that time you will see the Apple logo screen.



    The bad news is that I have been waiting over 4 hours for my first gen 4GB iPhone to complete it's wipe, so that I can restore it. In theory this should be the phone that takes the least amount of time to wipe and restore. Pressing the on/off switch brings up the Apple screen, which goes away after 30 seconds or so. Otherwise nothing. iTunes does not recognize it.



    I would advise against using this feature, except in an emergency.
  • Reply 20 of 30
    scchangscchang Posts: 5member
    Does the feature work with all iPhones on a MobileMe family pack from all user accounts. In other words, can I track my family? I suspect it only will track the phone corresponding to the logged in user.
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