My iPhone -- known around these parts as "my precious baby iPhone" -- was stolen last night.
It was taken right out of my hands. A block and a half away from my apartment, I pulled the phone out of my pocket to select a different song on Spotify, and a man on a bicycle came speeding by and snatched it from my grip. He was gone in a flash, and I was left with just the bottom piece of my purple iPhone cover in my hands.
To be sure, I've heard many stories and warnings lately about various iDevices being stolen. In New York City, we are regularly reminded to keep our iPhones and iPads concealed on the subways; and I've been extra careful there. I never expected someone to fly by on the street and take it from my hands.
Needless to say, I have learned my lesson.
I learned a couple of lessons, actually, because -- despite my being the editor of this very tech-aware Website -- I hadn't at all taken the kind of precautions an Internet Evolved person would. In fact, the detective at my neighborhood police precinct looked at me, astonished, as he said: "You write about technology for a living... and you didn't have 'Find My iPhone' enabled?"
No, officer, I didn't have Find My iPhone enabled. Nor was I even connected to iCloud. Nor was my device set up so that several entries of the wrong passcode would delete all my data.
Nor did I even have my iPhone backed up properly, as I discovered this morning, when my friend and I plugged in my new iPhone 4S (yes, Alan Reiter, I got the 4S!), and discovered I had one (1!) contact backed up to my Address Book on my Mac. One. And it's someone I don't even talk to anymore. #Winning!
We spend a lot of time on this site debating the merits and drawbacks of location awareness, the safety of the cloud, and the potential dangers of iCloud, specifically. I often find myself sitting on the skeptical side of the fence. But last night I wanted to kick myself for not having every tracking service I could think of enabled, and for not having all of my data available and waiting for me in the cloud.
And I felt rather foolish when everyone and their mother (well, except my mother, who mostly just got weepy about all the bad things that could have happened to me) asked me if I'd searched for my device with Find My iPhone, which would have been amazingly useful. To enable this feature, iPhone (and iPad) users need only download the Find My iPhone app, and then turn the service on in iCloud. Once this is set up, users can locate their iDevices on a map, play a sound on the lost or stolen device, remotely lock it, and remotely wipe it and erase personal data. For me, the ability to do all of those things would have been very comforting.
Overall, I was one of the more fortunate victims of iThievery. This wasn't armed robbery. I wasn't harmed. But I could have made things much easier for myself by taking advantage of the technology available. After the iPhone was taken from my hands, my mind immediately jumped to all of the photos, videos, audio albums, notes, and correspondences I'd stored on there; as well as the various services I was logged onto. (I used my sleepless night to change usernames and passwords on every account I could possibly think of.)
The bottom line is this: We might refer to these things as smartphones, but they're way more than that. They're data repositories and lifelines in many ways, and they should be treated and protected as such.
— Nicole Ferraro , Editor in Chief, Internet Evolution