Currently, Apple’s “Find My iPhone” feature, which shows a device’s location on a map, must be enabled before your device was lost or stolen to find it, according to Apple’s website. That means owners must hope the battery doesn’t run out before the device is tracked down.
A new patent application discovered by CNBC reveals that Apple is actively researching this particular type of feature. A stolen iPhone that’s powered off could automatically turn itself back on to transmit location data to the owner. This would happen without the thieves’ knowledge, as the iPhone would only require to connect to a wireless network and issue a message via a predetermined communication method, including SMS, email, or something else.
No word from Apple on when the feature might become available, and what device might get it. But in the meantime, if you lose your device when it’s off, you can still put it in “lost mode,” lock it, or remotely erase it, according to Apple’s website.