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You might recall that last month the New York Times ran a charged expose lambasting Apple and other smartphone manufacturers for not doing more to stem the rising tide of smartphone theft; with iOS 7's announcement yesterday, Apple appears to have delivered a workable solution, and much sooner than expected.
The new feature is Activation Lock, which prevents users from deactivating an iOS device with Find My iPhone enabled without first entering the Apple ID and password associated with the device. Apparently this works even if the thieves wipe the device clean. It's not quite the remote "kill switch" lawmakers and authorities envisioned when they first started voicing their concerns, but serves the same purpose by effectively rendering the iDevices useless.
Yesterday afternoon, the Associated Press managed to contact San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman--the most vocal critics--and acquire a joint statement from them. Their response was wisely cautious:
"We are appreciative of the gesture made by Apple to address smartphone theft. We reserve judgment on the activation lock feature until we can understand its actual functionality."
On Thursday, both Gascon and Schneiderman plan to meet with representatives from Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft to discuss the progress on their proposed "kill switches." Their concern isn't without considerable basis, as evidenced by the FCC report findings that one in three robberies without the United States involves a mobile phone. Earlier in the year, Gascon reported that almost half of all robberies in San Francisco last year, and last holiday season, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg blamed smartphone thefts for the city's rising crime rate.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.