Free device location tracking is one of the many new features included in Apple’s latest iOS 4.2 release. Previously the Find My iPhone functionality required a paying subscription to Apple’s MobileMe service at a yearly fee of $99. With iOS 4.2 all what needs to be done is adding a free MobileMe account and toggle the Find My iPhone settings switch to on.
Features include locating a device on a Google map either on the me.com website or via the free Find iPhone application. Clearly targeted at recovering lost iPhones, iPads or iPods it also allows remotely playing a sound to alert nearby persons, displaying a message providing information on how to return thedevice as well as remotely locking and wiping devices. These features will undoubtedly be welcomed by the enterprise market.
The Find iPhone app allows tracking multiple devices with devices able to locate each other mutually checking the location of a lost iPad on an iPhone or vice versa. While this is a great feature providing peace of mind for consumers owning expensive iOS devices, it can also double as a genuine tracking solution. All this is bad news for companies offering similar, paid services. While it would be easy for Apple to add additional features such as nearby friends alerts or other social location features, they are presumably refraining from this in order not to wreak havoc on the thriving third party iOS LBS developer ecosystem.