The company has been granted a patent that could potentially allow it to track an individual’s iPhone, even when it appears to have been turned off.
The feature enables phones to enter a sleep-like state that suggests it has been shut down, but instead the phone’s movements can still be traced.
At the moment, the company provides its own “Find My iPhone” service, which enables users to track their handset when it has been lost or stolen. As it stands, however, phones cannot be traced when turned off.
The granted patent indicates that in the future, users may be asked to enter a passcode before they turn their phone off, and if the incorrect code is entered the device will enter a traceable sleep mode. This will be a useful addition in the fight against mobile phone theft.
The patent also outlines plans for iPhone owners to operate their device’s camera remotely while in sleep mode, enabling them to potentially take a photograph of the individual who has stolen their phone.
According to the document, the iPhone will “periodically exit an unpowered state and transmits location data” automatically. It is likely that Apple will need to be wholly transparent with users as to how this feature would be implemented, in order to avoid accusations of surveillance.