Two years ago, Apple debuted new security features for iPhone making your iOS device safer. iCloud Activation Lock and Find My iPhone are great resources in the event of a missing iPhone. iCloud Activation Lock prevents a thief from gaining access to your iPhone. This will keep your information safe while making the iPhone unusable to anyone else but you.
When Apple introduced these great security features, we slowly saw iPhone thefts decline. Thieves aren’t interested in a device they cannot use or resell. Interestingly enough, after iPhone thefts went down, Samsung Galaxy thefts went up. We have the data to prove that iCloud Activation Lock is one of the best resources to protect our iPhones from theft. Unfortunately, this great feature is missing from one of Apple’s most admired devices: Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch’s current security mechanism is the simple passcode, which is difficult for a thief to bypass. The Apple Watch can receive private text messages and can even store your credit card information using the Apple Pay service. The simple passcode is great in this aspect, as it would protect all personal information on the watch. While your personal information is completely safe, the actual watch is not.
A video posted on YouTube demonstrates how easy it is to simply wipe and erase the content on the watch. This is done in less than one minute by simply holding down the power button until the options menu pops up. From here, the watch user can select the option to erase all content and settings. This action would reset the Apple Watch to its original factory settings.
When connected to power, the watch simply starts back up as if it were a completely new device. This security “loophole” would ultimately make an Apple Watch more appealing to thieves because an erased watch would work as if it were brand new. The thief could pair the Apple Watch with their own iPhone if they wished to. Conversely, if they chose to sell the device they could make a profit similar to the original price of the watch.
Lest we forget that this “problem” with the current version of the Apple Watch is in no way different than any other smart watch created. All competing smart watches currently available include no more security features than the Apple Watch. The only difference being that the Apple Watch has a cool-factor and a resale value that other watches simply cannot match. This ultimately makes the Apple Watch more likely to be stolen.
While it is clear that the security of the Apple Watch doesn’t match Fort Knox’s, it will most likely be a non-issue. The Apple Watch is nearly waterproof, which means a watch owner would rarely take the device off. Imagine being at a public pool and you wanted to go for a quick dip. You would never need to worry about leaving your Apple Watch poolside unattended. Due the fact that your watch is always on your wrist, theft is less of a threat.
Although Apple doesn’t currently implement more robust security features on the Apple Watch, we can predict improved aspects in the next version. An admirable quality of Apple is the commitment to software updates for their existing devices. Apple could simply increase the security of the Apple Watch with a quick software update. More than likely the next Apple Watch will come preloaded with similar software to Find My iPhone.
The reason we don’t have an app called “Find My Watch” is because the current Apple Watch does not connect to Wi-Fi or a cellular connection of its own. The watch is completely dependent on a connection from a paired iPhone. Next generations of the Apple Watch could possibly see independent connections via Wi-Fi. This could allow the watch to be remotely erased using another Apple device.
It is typical for Apple to release updated versions of older devices with “obvious” improvements. In 2007, Apple released the original iPhone with only GPRS and EDGE data support. This was strange at the time because 3G data transfer was the wireless connection of choice. The successor to the original iPhone, the iPhone 3G, then included 3G data support.
Another example is the iPad 2. The original iPad was released without a camera, making FaceTiming with friends and loved ones impossible. This was solved entirely on the iPad 2 which featured not one, but two, cameras. These major improvements show the type of products Apple is capable of producing in the near future.
While the Apple Watch continues to generate great reviews, over time small areas of necessary improvement will come to light. We now know that there could be some security improvements to the Apple Watch to make the ostentatious item less attractive to thieves. It is a small concern, and it will most likely be addressed in a software update. If Apple doesn’t address the issue soon, we will most certainly see more robust security features on the Apple Watch 2.