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How the popular “Find My iPhone” feature works – from an intern

How the popular “Find My iPhone” feature works – from an intern
How the popular “Find My iPhone” feature works – from an intern

One of Apple’s most popular features was developed by an intern.
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  • Apple’s Find My feature was born from an intern’s idea to locate lost devices.
  • It started with the “Find My iPhone” app, which was announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference 2009.
  • The feature has been further developed and now includes Find Friends and AirTags for all Apple devices.

If you’ve ever rummaged through your pockets and realized your phone was missing, Apple’s Find My feature was probably a lifesaver.

And according to Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services, the company’s idea for this feature had surprisingly humble beginnings.

Cue said in an interview with tech YouTuber Safwan AhmedMia (better known by his nickname SuperSaf) that the company’s Find My ecosystem was actually started by an intern.

The now-ubiquitous tool for more forgetful users “started with the idea of ​​someone losing their phone on the couch,” Cue said. After an intern noticed the general panic that comes from misplacing your phone, the company worked to develop a solution.

“I remember one of the first measures was that if you have your phone on silent mode, you’d better turn off silent mode, otherwise you won’t see it,” he said.

The original Find My iPhone app was first announced in 2009 during Apple’s 26th Worldwide Developers Conference. It was released the following year alongside iPhone OS 3 and was initially only available to members of Apple’s now-defunct paid MobileMe service.

With the introduction of iCloud in 2011, it became free for all users. Later that year, the feature was extended to Macs with Find My Mac and has been pre-installed on all iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple Watches ever since.

And now it is no longer just about lost devices, but also about people and, for example, misplaced luggage.

“Look where it went,” Cue said. “It went from ‘finding friends’ to ‘AirTags’ because you’re looking for your suitcase somewhere in the airport.”

Find My Friends, which allows users to share their locations with each other, was announced in 2011, the day before Steve Jobs’ death.

Ten years later, the AirTag was released, allowing people to track personal items using the physical tracking device that is now commonly used for luggage, keys, and other accessories.

Other companies have introduced similar technologies, including Google, which announced in early April that its own Find My Device feature would now be available for Android phones and tablets.

But when it comes to Apple, “it’s a great example of saying, ‘Yeah, sure, it’s really easy. You don’t have to be a genius to think of that,'” Cue said. “But nobody thought of it until we did it.”

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