The most pointless iPhone applications: Anti-theft apps

I keep on getting press releases sent in from, I imagine, really nice, really earnest mobile developers who have decided to crack the nightmare that is having your iPhone stolen. Or any phone for that matter, but the iPhone, it’s in a class of it’s own. First of all, if you’re a Vodafone UK subscriber and you’d like to protect your iPhone, you’ll have to stump up for £12.99 per month for insurance. Standing at the sales desk when I bought my wife’s one, I saw that the sales chap sensibly added the insurance without telling me. Again.

Telling any customer who’s just selected their line rental that there’s another £12.99 to pay each month just-in-case doesn’t go down too well. Especially when you do the 12.99 x 24 month calculation (£311.76).

But in terms of preventing your iPhone from getting stolen, what can you do? Well you can download a plethora of bollocks applications that will lock your iPhone. They really will lock it solid. They can report the phone’s location, they can prevent the device from being restarted, oh there’s a whole host of things they can do.

Provided, that is, you start them in the first place. And leave said application running.

Because an iPhone does not have background processing capability, there’s next to f-all you can do with anti-theft applications. Rafe and I saw a fantastic application at Mobile World Congress that embeds itself into the low-level parts of the Symbian operating system and will truly protect your device. You run the application and it sits in the background until it’s needed. Leave the handset for 30 seconds and it’ll automatically activate. Smart and useful. We’ll be bringing you a video of this in action soon.

With all these iPhone security applications, the best they can offer is please-remember-to-start-me functionality. Start the app before you put the phone down where it’s likely to get stolen, then your phone will be protected.

So, for example, if you’re sitting out at a nice cafe on Las Ramblas in Barcelona — and you decide to have your handset out on display — you must activate the security application whilst it’s sitting there. Just in case, right?

If you forget to activate the security application — which almost everyone does — then you’re screwed.

I don’t know why people are actually buying them.

I’d be really interested to see an iPhone anti-theft application that actually works without you having to activate it.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

5 replies on “The most pointless iPhone applications: Anti-theft apps”

Jesus, £12.99 a month is way too expensive. It is almost the price of another iphone. In fact, at that price I don't see the point of insurance – if it is stolen, just buy another one. You will hardly be worse off and if there is an excess on your policy you may even be a bit better off.

Yes agreed, lack of multi-tasking is a pain… Good news is coming though! We’re developing iphone friendly @blueNIO software that we think will tackle 1. not being able to run in the background and 2. not requiring conscious turning on… I don’t want to reveal our special sauce just yet, but we’re very excited!

No more lost iphones… coming soon from an Edinburgh startup 🙂

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