Non-MobileMe users who upgrade to iOS 4.2 have reason to celebrate—the popular Find My iPhone service, which once required a paid MobileMe account, is now available for free to iPhone 4, iPad and fourth generation iPod Touch owners.
The Find My iPhone app itself isn’t required to use the service, although it is handy to have installed if you lose a different device, or if a friend loses theirs. Even though the service is now free, a MobileMe account is still required, so you’ll need to create one if you haven’t already. To then activate Find My iPhone, go to your settings panel, select "Mail," "Contacts," "Calendar," and then add your MobileMe account. Once MobileMe is verified and displayed in your accounts list, you’ll be able to turn on Find My iPhone.
As long as you have Find My iPhone activated on your device, you’ll be able locate it through the Find My iPhone app, or via MobileMe at Me.com. Through either method, you’ll be able to pinpoint your iDevice on a map, remotely lock it, send a repeating message or sound to annoy the thief (or good Samaritan!), or permanently wipe your device of data if you think there’s no way you’ll ever see it again. Again, if you lose your phone, you’ll have to use someone else’s app or log-on to MobileMe at Me.com.
Users with older devices or who haven’t installed iOS 4.2 will still need to purchase a MobileMe subscription to use the program.