Apple has always provided a way to track a lost device with the Find my iPhone feature. Now with the launch of its latest iOS 13 and macOS Catalina, Apple is adding another security feature to its Find My service, allowing users to track their lost devices and also track friends they share location data with, even when they are offline.
Previously, Find My iPhone allowed users to track any device connected to their Apple ID, whether it’s an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch. But it had to be connected to the internet if the user wanted to see its location. Now with the new Find my app, users can track the device even when it’s offline.
How Does ‘Find my’ App Work?
Apple uses a private crowd-sourced geolocation service to track offline devices. When you mark your device as missing, your device will try to talk to other nearby Apple devices with a low-energy Bluetooth connection. It will work even when your device is on idle state.
When enabled, your device constantly emits a dynamic encryption key that nearby Apple devices identify. So basically each device works as a beacon. The nearby Apple devices then encrypt and upload your device location. This allows you to track your lost device, even if it’s not connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data.
But in order to decrypt the location and track your lost device, you will need another Apple device sharing the same iCloud account with your lost one. This is because all of your connected devices use the same private key and the same series of rotating public keys. When you use the ‘Find My’ app on another Apple device, that device will upload its own set of keys and request the database to search for a match. When a match is found, Apple will send you the encrypted location data to your device where it will be decrypted.
How To Enable ‘Find My’ Feature?
If you have previously set up ‘Find My iPhone, iPad or Mac’ before updating to iOS 13 or macOS Catalina, the ‘Find My’ feature will be enabled by default. If you are unsure about it, then follow the instructions below:
On iOS 13:
- First, open the Settings app.
- Tap on your name to view your Apple ID settings.
- Now tap Find My option.
- Tap Find my iPhone and toggle on Find My iPhone. Also, tap Enable Offline Finding for the offline tracking feature.
Note: If you use an iPad running iPadOS 13, follow the steps mentioned above.
On macOS Catalina:
- First, head to System Preferences.
- Now click on the Apple ID option to view your Apple ID settings.
- Click on iCloud located on the left sidebar.
- From the list of apps, locate ‘Find My Mac’ and make sure it’s ticked. Next to it, click on ‘Options…’ and turn on Enable Offline Finding.
How To Find Lost Apple Device Even it’s Offline With ‘Find My’ In iOS 13 And macOS Catalina
- Launch the ‘Find My’ app on an Apple device.
- Sign in with Apple ID if you haven’t already.
- Tap the Devices tab at the bottom.
- Select your device from the list which you want to track.
- If online, you will see the location of your device.
- If the device is offline, you can mark it as lost, play a sound or erase it.
If your device is found by the Offline Finding feature, it will be shown on the map, from where you can easily locate the lost device.
Apple has done a remarkable job by giving users the ability to track offline devices. It’s great to see Apple adding features like this to secure user’s privacy better than it ever was. But in a situation where someone steals the device and turn it off, it’s certainly not gonna work. It would be nice if Apple adds an extra feature: “Required Passcode to turn off the device”, which will make it much more difficult for the thief to turn the device off and buy you some time to locate your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch.
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