REUTERS

The new operating system might reduce iPhone thefts. 

New York subway riders got an interesting surprise on Saturday night: NYPD officers were handing out fliers at various stops encouraging iPhone users to upgrade their devices to iOS 7, the new operating system Apple released last week. 

NYPD officers could also be seen outside Apple stores and on the Park Slope Parents Facebook page. The NYPD might be doing more to sell New Yorkers on Apple's new operating system than Apple itself, and for good reason: Activation Lock, the new iOS7 security feature, was lobbied for by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He says the feature will "reduce the incentive to steal by lowering the value of stolen devices."

Macworld explains Activation Lock works:  

With Activation Lock enabled, someone who’s found or stolen your device can’t disable Find My [iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch] on the device without knowing both your Apple ID and that Apple ID’s account password. The person with your lost device can’t erase data on the device, either. And best of all, if you designate your device as being lost, whoever is in possession of it can’t restore or reactivate it—the phone displays only a phone number and a custom message about contacting you.

Basically, Activation Lock makes your iPhone worthless to a thief who might attempt to resell it.

The NYPD's enthusiasm for Activation Lock makes sense, considering the rate of iPhone theft in New York. The Village Voice reports that:

The statistics for New York are actually pretty staggering--70 percent of cell phones stolen on New York City subways and buses are iPhones. And it's a crime that continues to rise--during a 9-month period in 2012, 11,447 iOS devices, including iPhones, were reported stolen, which was an increase of more than 3,000 over the previous year.

While some computer experts think Activation Lock will create new problems while possibly solving old ones (imagine a disgruntled ex-employee using Activation Lock on his work computer!), in the short term it seems like a great way to screw over anyone who might lift your smart phone. If you haven't done so already, here's how to download iOS 7.  
 
Top image: Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iOS7 software during Apple Inc's media event on Sept. 10. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

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