Q: I was reading your article from this week on how the Find My iPhone feature works, and you mention that it’s a good idea to have a passcode enabled to protect my information. But what happens if an honest person finds my iPhone and wants to get it back to me? Wouldn’t having a passcode prevent them from being able to find contact information? Is there a feature on the iPhone that can be used to show “owner” information on the lock screen like some other phones have?
A: While there is no “Owner Information” feature on the iPhone, iOS 6 introduced a new “Lost Mode” that you can activate through the Find My iPhone service, which can display a message and contact phone number right on the lock screen. As long as you have Find My iPhone enabled on your device, you can access Find My iPhone from any web browser or the “Find My iPhone” app on another iOS device and enable Lost Mode by clicking on the appropriate option.
Lost Mode will take you through a series of steps where you can enter a phone number and short message to be displayed on your device’s screen. On the iPhone, a “Call” button will also be displayed allowing whoever has found your iPhone to quickly and easily call you back at the provided number, right from your own iPhone.
Once Lost Mode is engaged, your device will also regularly begin reporting its location using the Find My iPhone service, so that you can actually see where it’s travelled while it’s lost. By comparison, when Lost Mode is not enabled, your iPhone only reports its location when you request it through the Find My iPhone web site or iOS app.
Lost Mode will automatically deactivate if the device is unlocked with the correct passcode. You can also turn it off at any time from the Find My iPhone site or app.
Although Lost Mode is a pretty neat and useful way of helping reunite you with your iPhone, it is still subject to all of the limitations of Find My iPhone described in our previous article—namely that if the phone is out of network coverage or turned off, there will be no way to activate Lost Mode in the first place. Further, while Lost Mode is available on all iOS 6 devices, an iPod touch or Wi-Fi iPad will not have the benefit of more ubiquitous network coverage.
As a result, if you’re concerned about misplacing your iOS device, you may want to consider a more “low-tech” solution rather than relying on Lost Mode. Since your device can display a lock screen wallpaper of your choice, there is no reason you can’t simply fire up an app like Photoshop and create a custom wallpaper that includes the necessary owner information. Since you’re just displaying a picture here, this can be anything from white text on a plain black background to a small text annotation on your preferred wallpaper image. Once you have your image setup, simply transfer it to your iPhone, which you can do either via iTunes or simply by e-mailing it to yourself and saving it to your Camera Roll; from there you can select the photo as your default lock screen wallpaper.