iCloud's Find My iPhone Is Perfect For The Forgetful iPhone Owner, And It's Free And Easy To Setup With iOS 5
At first, Apple's new iCloud service might not seem very essential; backing up data in the cloud isn't the sexiest thing in the world, nor do most people keep very important documents or photos exclusively on their iPads or iPhones. And yet beyond the ability to sync calendars and spreadsheets across devices, the free-with-iOS5 iCloud service has a feature that every forgetful, absent-minded and disorganized iPhone owner is going to want and need: Find My iPhone, a service that can locate and set off a loud alarm on your phone from anywhere in the world for all those times you can't find it.
HOW YOU GET IT
First, download iOS 5, the new mobile operating system from Apple, on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. The iOS 5 download will start automatically when you connect your device to your computer. Once the software has been successfully downloaded to your device (and this could take hours, depending on the crunch on Apple's servers), it will automatically reboot. You'll see a screen asking if you want to "Set Up iCloud": Yes, you do. It's free, and it's going to help you find your iPhone whenever you lose it. Select "Use iCloud" and sign in with your Apple ID (the email address and password you use for the iTunes store).
Once you've completed this, there will be a prompt asking you if you want to sign up for "Find My iPhone." Again, you do.
Now you're set up to use Find My iPhone. But how does it work? How do you find your iPhone when it is lost in the quagmire of your living room or basement?
HOW TO USE FIND MY IPHONE
Go to http://icloud.com and sign in using that Apple ID email address/password combo you just used. You've got five icons to choose from, and clearly we want "Find My iPhone," the old-school RADAR looking one. When you click that RADAR icon, you'll be taken to a map that should show where your iPhone is. Here I am, at the HuffPost office:
If your iPhone is lost, and you think you're in the room with it, you can make it sound an alarm. In that black rectangle that shows where your iPhone is, there is a little letter 'i' inside a blue circle. Click on that to bring up a menu with options for finding your iPhone. That will look something like this:
The bottom two features -- "Remote Lock" and "Remote Wipe" -- are security features for when you leave your Apple device in a public place or somewhere that a stranger could get his or her hands on it. With Remote Lock, you can set a numerical password from afar that will prevent others from using your phone or tablet without the code; Remote Wipe, meanwhile, erases all of the data, information and media on your device, if you're concerned about privacy.
"Play Sound or Send Message" is the big feature here, however. If you choose this option, an alarm will go off on your iPhone, wherever it is, and it won't stop going off until you have located your phone and unlocked the home screen. You can also send along a message: "This is Jason, I've lost my phone, call me on my office phone at 212-555-5435 if you find this. Small reward, offered in hugs and chocolate."
The Find My iPhone feature isn't new to Apple -- it's been around since 2009 -- though with iOS 5, it is free without a MobileMe account and much more integrated and highlighted in the operating system. Now is the time to finally get it, if you've been putting it off. (Apple's competitors, by the way, also have some solid apps for lost phone location, including the excellent and free Plan B from Android).
In any case, Find My iPhone is free and front-and-center in iOS 5. If you hadn't gotten it before, get it while you're upgrading to iOS 5. It works well, it's free and you should probably download it before you lose that Apple device of yours. Though you may not see a need to back up your address book, iCloud is worth its zero dollar price tag for Find My iPhone alone, for the time, money and frustration it could save you in the future. No more tearing apart couch cushions, no more begging a friend or loved one to call your phone for you: Find My iPhone takes care of that instantly, and it doesn't make fun of you for having lost your phone again.
Apple debuted the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/04/siri-apple-iphone-4s-voice-personal-assistant_n_994605.html?1317758678" target="_hplink">Siri virtual assistant</a>, a voice-controlled interface designed exclusively for the iPhone 4S. Siri lets the user schedule calendar events and reminders, set alarms, find information about local businesses--just by asking. The hands-free system even talks back to you. <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/nickbilton/status/121288597952405504" target="_hplink">The New York Times's Nick Bilton</a> notes that it sounds like "A female Hal who had too many vodka tonics at the bar." <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/04/apple-reveals-siri-voice-interface-the-intelligent-assistant/" target="_hplink">According to TechCrunch</a>, "Siri will be a beta for the time being, as it only supports English, German, and French voice input, but there are more language add-ons and tweaks to come." <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
The iPhone 4S is built around Apple's dual-core A5 processor, which also powers the iPad 2. <a href="http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/10/04Apple-Launches-iPhone-4S-iOS-5-iCloud.html" target="_hplink">Apple claims that this new chip</a> "delivers up to twice the processing power and up to seven times faster graphics than iPhone 4." <em>Image courtesy of the AP.</em>
Better Download Speeds
Although the new iPhone isn't a 4G device, Apple claims that it can rival high-speed devices. <a href="http://gizmodo.com/5846504/" target="_hplink">Writes Gizmodo</a>, "the new iPhone 4S runs on faster HSPA+ networks. That means that your telephone will download stuff faster from the Internet. Before it was up to 7.2 Megabits-per-second downloads." <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
New Operating System
Right out of the box, the new iPhone will run Apple's upgraded operating system, iOS 5. Apple says the new OS introduces over 200 new features, such as push notifications to all mobile devices, wireless upgrades, improved mobile browsing via Apple's Safari app, location-aware reminders, a webcam shortcut that's accessible from the lock screen, the ability to edit photos and many others. <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
More Carrier Choices
In addition to availability through AT&T and Verizon, the iPhone 4S will be offered by a new carrier: Sprint. "[T]he specs for Sprint's version perfectly match the Verizon model -- both have an EVDO radio for 3G within the US, and a GSM one for service outside the country," <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/04/sprint-iphone-officially-announced-on-sale-october-14/" target="_hplink">Engadget writes</a>. <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
Apple's latest iPhone is a "world phone," which means users can use it to place calls and surf the web on different networks, an ideal feature for jet-setters and one that previous iPhones didn't offer. <a href="http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/10/04Apple-Launches-iPhone-4S-iOS-5-iCloud.html" target="_hplink">From Apple's official press release:</a> <blockquote>Improving on the innovative stainless steel external, dual-antenna design of iPhone 4, iPhone 4S is the first phone to intelligently switch between two antennas to send and receive. iPhone 4S now supports twice the download speed with HSDPA of up to 14.4 Mbps and iPhone 4S is a world phone, so both CDMA and GSM customers can now roam internationally on GSM networks.</blockquote> <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
In the United States, customers can pick up a 16GB iPhone 4S for $199, a 32GB model for $299 and a beefy 64GB model for $399. <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
<a href="http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/10/04Apple-Launches-iPhone-4S-iOS-5-iCloud.html" target="_hplink">Pre-orders for the iPhone 4S begin on October 7</a>. The device will hit shelves in the U.S. on October 14. Consumers around the world will have to wait until December 2011, when the handset will make its way to Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, <a href="http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/10/04Apple-Launches-iPhone-4S-iOS-5-iCloud.html" target="_hplink">according to Apple</a>. <em>Image courtesy of the AP.</em>
Longer Battery Life
Apple promises that the faster A5 processor won't degrade battery life but will actually allow the iPhone 4S to use energy more efficiently than the iPhone 4. Indeed, the company promises up to 8 hours of battery life when placing calls via 3G. "If you set your phone to 2G, you will get 14 hours of talk time," <a href="http://gizmodo.com/5846504/" target="_hplink">writes Gizmodo</a>. "3G web browsing will give you six hours of battery life, while Wi-Fi access runs up to nine hours." <em>Image courtesy of the AP.</em>
The new iPhone also comes with a camera upgrade. The device's rear-facing webcam has been bumped up from 5 megapixels up to 8 megapixels and will offer 1080p HD video recording. Images captured on the iPhone 4S will feature over 60 percent more pixels than on the previous handset, <a href="http://venturebeat.com/2011/10/04/apple-roundup-apple-throws-the-press-for-a-loop-with-iphone-4s-but-no-iphone-5/" target="_hplink">that's a resolution of 3264 x 2448</a>. <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
A feature of iOS 5, <a href="http://www.gottabemobile.com/2011/10/04/airplay-mirroring-comes-to-iphone-4s/" target="_hplink">Airplay Mirroring</a> allows the iPhone sync wirelessly to an Apple TV, letting the user watch videos or view photos from their phone on the big screen. <em>Images courtesy of Getty.</em>
The new iPhone looks just like its predecessor, <a href="http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html" target="_hplink">measuring</a> 4.5 inches high, 2.31 wide and 0.37 inches thick, <a href="http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html" target="_hplink">according to Apple's measurements</a>. The 4S will weigh 4.9 ounces, just a hair heavier than its predecessor, which weighed 4.8 ounces. <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
The new iPhone will be available in white as well as black. <em>Image courtesy of the AP.</em>