Apple quietly snuck a crucial new security feature onto the iPhone

I’ve taken the iPhone’s Find My app for granted ever since it debuted. It lets me track the handset and enables Activation Lock. This is a key safety feature. It prevents thieves from using the iPhone if they ever get their hands on it. The iPhone will continue to be locked to my Apple ID, and my data will be safe.

The only scenario where I’d disable Find My concerns iPhone repairs. You have to remove the tracking protection before you hand the device in for repairs. That’s generally not a problem if you go to an Apple retail store to hand in the phone in person. That’s the way I’d go about repairing the handset. Removing Find My tracking could be an issue if you ship the device to Apple or use third-party repair shops. Things can happen in transit that are out of your control.

If only there were a way to continue tracking the handset during the entire repair process. Well, it turns out that Apple just invented one, and it’ll be rolling out via the iOS 17.5 update. Apple added a Repair State feature to Find My via the iOS 17.5 beta 4 update that will let you continue tracking the handset during repairs.

Spotted by MacRumors, the new Repair State feature is not completely functional yet. That is, you shouldn’t enable it for the time being. But it’ll likely become functional by the time iOS 17.5 exits beta and rolls out to all users.

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If you enable it, your phone will get a “Ready for Repair” label and a message that reads, “This device remains fully functional in the repair state.” You’ll also get a stethoscope icon in Find My to indicate that the iPhone is still locked to your Apple ID, but it’s in a special Repair State.

It’s unclear why Apple is upgrading Find My with this functionality right now. One explanation might be the new Stolen Device Protection feature that Apple rolled out earlier this year. The feature is meant to prevent thieves from stealing Apple ID credentials after social engineering iPhone thefts in bars and other public locations. That’s a scam that has worked successfully for years, allowing thieves to obtain the iPhone PIN code from unsuspecting victims and then reset their Apple IDs.

Stolen Device Protection will make you wait about an hour to turn off Find My protection. This could be a problem for repairs. You wouldn’t want to turn off the tracking feature before leaving home. But you’ll have to wait an hour if you only do it when you get to an Apple retail store.

As someone who has been avoiding third-party retail shops and going straight to Apple stores with iPhone concerns, I’ll say the Repair State functionality will definitely come in handy.

It’ll put my mind at ease regarding scenarios where I’d have to ship the iPhone to a repair location. It might even make me embrace local repair shops instead of Apple’s. I’d still wipe the iPhone clean, but I would enable Find My tracking with Repair State turned on in such a case.

Then again, I hope I never have to use it. The only repairs I had to perform to my iPhones concern older devices. The repairs themselves were battery replacements. But it’s still a great feature to have on hand. Hopefully, Repair State will expand to other Apple products you can track with Find My and lock to your Apple ID.

Once iOS 17.5 rolls out, Apple will probably explain the changes it made to the iPhone repair process so it can support devices with Find My enabled in Repair State mode. You’ll want to wait until then before testing the Repair State feature. Enabling it now means you won’t be able to disable it. You’ll still be able to track the iPhone and use it normally. But it’ll continue to be marked as “Ready for Repair” in Find My.


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