The upcoming iOS 13 was first announced last month at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), and while it’s not scheduled to officially arrive on your devices until the fall, it’s now available as a public beta that sports an early version of the fancy new features. Among the standout updates are the new Dark Mode, but the beta also means the first look at Apple’s new “Find My” app which aims to help you locate your devices even if they’re off.
The feature works like this: Apple devices with iOS 13 installed will be able to broadcast a low-power Bluetooth signal relaying their location even when they are off. Bluetooth signals are pretty limited in range, so instead of requiring that you be close enough to the device in question to detect it yourself, iOS 13 will recruit stranger’s phones to listen for the cry of nearby gadgets and then report their whereabouts to the cloud. Apple says that end-to-end encryption keeps the location of your device secret from everyone but you (including Apple itself), using a few cryptographic tricks that, as Wired explains, requires you to have two different Apple devices for it to work.
The result is that you should be able to find your iPhone whether it dies between your couch cushions or in the backpack of a thief, and hopefully that level of traceability, combined with some new security features that make Apple gadgets unwipeable without a password, will make Apple’s devices a less appealing target for theives.
Because the new Find My feature requires a whole network of cooperating phones to reach its full potential, chances are it won’t be completely operational until iOS hits in full force this fall. Still, if you like to live on the bleeding edge, you can sign up for Apple’s iOS beta program and get it now. Just beware, it’s going to be unstable and so it’s probably not wise to install it on your main or only device.
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