Apple is introducing a new tool that lets users determine if their Apple devices are configured to use Activation Lock. The web tool works in the same vein as those used by AT&T and other carriers in ascertaining if a particular handset for potential trade-in has been using the protective feature. In Apple's tool, you provide the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) or the device's serial number, then fill in a CAPTCHA form, and then click the Continue button to generate results.
If your Apple device is protected, you will be given instructions on how to disable the lock before putting your handset on sale. You will find helpful information regarding the removal of a used handset from another person's account -- that is, if you bought a device from an owner who has not disabled it yet.
The tool, which is found in iCloud.com, appears to be part of the Find My iPhone web app. However, it seems that you can not access the page from the web app without having to manually type the address.
But still, Apple's new tool should come in handy, especially in dealing with device theft. The Activation Lock feature was first introduced together with iOS 7. It proved to be very effective in preventing devices from being stolen that various governments are now requiring a similar system to be included on all new handsets.
And for a device that is as popular as an iPhone, buying a used one is particularly laden with risks. Indeed, many end up paying a fairly significant amount of money for an iPhone that has been locked off, or worse (some devices may look okay but may lack basic capabilities such as calling). Despite the risks, the black market for stolen Apple devices continues thrive. The new iPhone 6 can fetch up to more than a thousand dollars when sold off-contract. But ultimately, it is the end user who suffers, not knowing exactly what they are going to get when they make the purchase.
This is why Apple's newly-launched tool is such a useful thing to have. It can provide some protection, especially for the new owners who, by having acquired a used Apple device, just want to be able to enjoy their devices without any catch.
By default, the Activation Lock feature is turned on on any iOS-run device. If you do not know how to identify the IMEI or serial number of your device, Apple has a comprehensive guide in its support pages for your reference. There are other ways of checking your device's Activation Lock status, but with Apple's new tool, you get to do it in a more straightforward way.
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