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Apple releases iOS 17.3 with new Stolen Device Protection for your iPhone

Here's how to turn on the new theft protection feature for protecting data on stolen iPhones.

Apple

Today is a big day for Apple system updates: the company released iOS 17.3 and iPadOS 17.3, alongside more modest watchOS 10.3 and macOS Sonoma 14.3 updates. This iOS update is a modest refresh, so don’t go looking for anything too crazy. There is, however, a new feature called Stolen Device Protection. This isn’t used to locate a stolen iPhone or iPad, but rather to keep the thieves from accessing your personal data.

The feature first popped up in the developer beta of iOS 17.3 and it’s actually pretty handy. If someone manages to steal your iPhone or iPad, and you are updated to OS 17.3, you can lock them out of the system by forcing Face ID or Touch ID access. This works even if they have your passcode, so they won’t be able to put in their own biometrics and lock you out.

The software automatically mandates a one-hour security delay before changing the passcode if the phone or tablet is recognized as being in an unfamiliar location. Stolen Device Protection won’t stop thieves from doing their thing, but it will make things harder for them. The tool’s available for both iPhones and iPads.

The update also brings collaborative playlists to Apple Music, AirPlay hotel support, optimized crash detection and new wallpapers to celebrate Black History Month. It’s not the most robust update in the world, but it’s only been like a month since iOS 17.2 was released.

How do I turn on Stolen Device Protection?

Like other iOS 17 releases, you need an iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max or iPhone XR from 2018, or any version of iPhone 11, iPhone 12, iPhone 13, iPhone 14 and iPhone 15. It also works on iPhone SE second- and third-generation models. As for iPadOS 17.3, a whole bunch of models are eligible for the update, including the iPad Mini fifth-generation and up, the standard iPad sixth-generation and up, the iPad Air third-generation and up and all iPad Pro models. Check your system settings to see if the update is available for download.

You'll find the option to turn on Stolen Device Protection in the Settings menu, under "Face ID & Passcode." It's really just as simple as scrolling down and tapping "Stolen Device Protection," and watching the "Off" label turn to "On." There is no other setup required.