Apple has launched a new web-based Activation Lock Status tool that allows users to check if an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch device has Activation Lock enabled. The feature is especially useful for someone who is buying a used or refurbished device.
The webpage asks users to enter the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) or serial number of their device and cross checks with Apple's servers to ascertain if Activation Lock is turned on or off. As an additional layer of protection, Apple uses Captcha to protect the website from bots.
If the Activation Lock is enabled on the device, Apple's tool instructs users to contact the current owner of the device for the password and Apple ID, which are essential to unlock it. With the tool, consumers purchasing a used or refurbished device can check before-hand if it has Activation Lock turned on - which may be due to a number of reasons, such as the device actually being a lost or stolen one, or that the owner forgot to turn off the feature before putting it up for sale. If the Activation Lock is turned off, the iOS device is deemed by Apple to be ready for users to set up and use.
Apple introduced Activation Lock in iOS 7 to prevent theft of devices, and it is enabled by default if the iOS device has iCloud enabled. Activation Lock works in conjunction with iOS' Find My iPhone feature that effectively locks a device to the user's Apple account. In the latest iOS 8 software upgrade, the feature is switched on by default just like the new 'Send Last Location' feature that sends the last known location coordinates of any device running iOS before the battery dies.
Activation Lock has reportedly been praised by security experts since it managed to cut down iPhone-related thefts in major cities in the United States.