The Secret iPhone & the Power of MobileMe: How Apple Wiped a Stolen iPhone

Secret iPhone

By now you’ve probably heard that Gizmodo got a hold of Apple’s next iPhone after an Apple engineer accidentally left it at a bar in Redwood City, California. I’m not going to repeat the story to you (go read it), but what I found most intriguing about the ordeal was that Apple remotely wiped the data from the secret iPhone once they realized it was missing. So espionage-esque.

I can hear Steve Jobs yelling, “Abort iPhone!”, and VP Phil Schiller dutifully extends his palm to push down the Big Red Button. And then the iPhone, in some far away place, goes blank.

Phew! Imagine if Gizmodo had gotten their hands on the data on that iPhone. That would have been a whole different fiasco. Instead, Apple saved what remains of their dignity by wiping the iPhone clean.

How’d they wipe the iPhone?

You might be thinking: Apple must have access to some secret CIA technology to just wipe an iPhone at the push of a button like that. But actually, Gizmodo’s secret iPhone was wiped out by a service that’s available to all iPhone users, MobileMe.


Maybe you already know about MobileMe’s Remote Wipe feature, but it was news to me, since I’ve usually paid no attention to the service. After doing some research on MobileMe’s Remote Wipe capabilities, here’s what I learned about what MobileMe can (and can’t) do to recover or protect a stolen iPhone:

  • You can locate your lost iPhone on a map.
  • You can remotely set a Passcode Lock. Of course, those are easy to crack apparently.
  • You can display a message or play a sound on a lost iPhone.
  • You can remotely wipe the data from a lost iPhone, like Apple did to the iPhone before Gizmodo got to it.

In my opinion, the Remote Wipe service alone is worth $99 a year. Considering how much I rely on my iPhone, it worries me to think about what could happen if I lost it. My heart would sink. But I haven’t taken the plunge yet.

Have you tried MobileMe?

What do you think of Apple’s MobileMe cloud services? Have you ever Remote Wiped your iPhone? How did it go? I’d love to hear your story in the comments.

Helpful Links

Apple – MobileMe
Apple – MobileMe – Find Your iPhone

Multitasking Face-Off: iPhone vs Android vs WebOS


When it comes to multitasking, Apple claimed at their iPhone OS 4 unveiling that “we weren’t first to the party, but we’re gonna be the best.” But is iPhone’s new multitasking feature really the best way to do multitasking? Check out these video demos of multitasking on iPhone OS 4, Android and Palm WebOS to decide for yourself who does multitasking better:

iPhone OS 4 Multitasking

Android Multitasking

Palm WebOS Multitasking

iPhone Jailbreak Multitasking Solutions

There are also some multitasking solutions that you can use if you jailbreak your iPhone, including:



What Do You Think?

Is Apple’s iPhone OS 4 multitasking really the best? Which multitasking solution do you prefer? I would love to hear your opinion in the comments.

iPhone OS 4: What Do You Think of the Latest iPhone Update?

iPhone OS 4

What did you think of Apple’s grand announcement of the new iPhone OS 4? Personally, I’m most excited about multitasking and folders, two features I asked for in my iPhone wish list for 2010.

Continue reading for a breakdown of my favorite iPhone OS 4 features, some limitations, and what’s missing in this latest iPhone update, which will become available for download on iTunes this summer.


iPhone Multitasking

The new multitasking update in iPhone OS 4.0 will make it possible to run location tracking services in the background, along with VOIP services such as Skype, background audio such as Pandora, and other services. This is going to make iPhone dramatically more useful. I have always wanted the ability to run location tracking apps in the background, so that I could use apps like Google Latitude to broadcast my location no matter what app I am running. Currently, you can only broadcast your location in Latitude if you’re in Safari with the web app open. This renders Latitude for iPhone pretty useless, since you can’t exit Safari and still share your location. Worry no more, for multitasking will fix that.

No Multitasking for 3G Users

Perhaps not surprisingly, Apple is shamelessly omitting the multitasking feature from iPhone 3G. They say the 3G’s hardware would not be able to handle multitasking, but I beg to differ, considering jailbroken 3G iPhones can multitask just fine.

Clearly, Apple’s intention is to make 3G users feel left out of the party so that they buy the latest iPhone model. That’s called planned obsolescence. They deliberately impose an artificial limit on the iPhone 3G so that you consider it obsolete and buy a 3GS or the next generation iPhone at full price. This practice may be good for sales, but it is wasteful and unfairly costs you money.

If you have an iPhone 3G and you want multitasking, your options are either: upgrade to a new iPhone, switch to another phone, or jailbreak your iPhone.

Update: I have just learned that the original iPhone will not be supported at all by iPhone OS 4.


iPhone App Folders

The folders update was another much anticipated feature of iPhone 4.0. The clutter of iPhone apps right now makes a mess of my home screens, so it will be great to be able to group apps together in a more organized fashion. To create a folder, all it takes is dragging one app onto the other.

iPhone OS 4 Feature List

In all, the iPhone 4.0 OS will include 7 major feature updates:

  1. Multitasking
  2. Folders
  3. A unified mailbox
  4. iBooks
  5. Game Center, a social gaming network
  6. Broader Enterprise support
  7. The new iAd mobile advertising system

iPhone 4.0 debuts sometime this summer. Learn more about the next iPhone update in Mashable’s iPhone 4.0 OS overview.

What’s missing?

Although the iPhone 4.0 update adds over 100 new user features, there are a couple of features I was hoping to see that were not discussed at the OS 4 unveiling.

Better Notifications

iPhone is notably lacking a streamlined notifications system. For example, when you get a notification now, it disappears forever after you view or close it. If a new notification pops up before you’ve read the previous one, the first notification disappears. iPhone needs a better notifications system so that, like Facebook, you can refer back to your notifications and see them in a list.

Better App Interaction

Another feature I would like to have in the future is the ability to change the default apps that my iPhone uses under certain circumstances. For example, I want to be able to tell my iPhone to open the TomTom navigation app instead of the Google Maps app when I click a hyperlinked address. Or to share an image from my Photos album via the Facebook app. Or to open the WordPress app from within Safari so that I could blog about pages that I liked. This would certainly be a feature that would appeal mostly to power users, but it would be great to have the option.

What do you think? Are you excited about iPhone 4.0? Which features do you love, and what features do you think are missing? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.