Apple may not have announced the feature on stage, but when OS X Lion arrives in July it is expected to come with a Find My Mac feature that will allow users to track down lost and stolen MacBooks with ease. Like the Find my iPhone and Find my iPad apps the Find My Mac app is expected to be a free service that will use the computer’s IP address to determine the location. This new features was included in the latest developer build of OS X Lion which was released to developers this week.
When OS X Lion arrives next month users will be able to turn the MacBook tracking software on via the Mail, Contacts and Calendars settings. Once enabled, the software will use your MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air’s internet connection to determine a location which can be used to find your Mac or be shared with police. For tracking down your Mac, you’ll need another computer or an iOS device to look up the location.
The new Find My Mac feature will allow users to take several actions including, playing a sound, sending a message, remotely locking or remotely wiping your Mac. These actions are nice, but be sure you are ready to wipe or lock your Mac because doing so will prevent any further tracking. When the Find My Mac feature is turned on guest users can access Safari browser, but not the rest of your apps. This setting is likely to encourage thieves to logon and give Apple your MacBook’s location.
The Find My Mac feature will not be able to use GPS like it can on the iPhone or on 3G iPads, but rather it will use nearby WiFi signals and the Internet connection to help you find out where your Mac is located. Some have assumed that this new feature points to MacBooks coming with integrated 3G connections in the next refresh, but at this time that seems like a large stretch.
There has been a lot of coverage lately of MacBooks being tracked down with laptop tracking software like Hidden which can perform similar actions. Unfortunately, the current version of Find My Mac doesn’t appear to be able to snap pictures of a thief for online shaming and identification. For users that want to be able to perform Find My Mac features on their Mac or PC right now, check out the free Prey Project service which can track your Windows and Mac notebooks and includes the ability to take a photo with the built in webcam.
By including this functionality in OS X Lion Apple is giving users a very nice tool and raising the bar once again for included applications and tools.