iPad Disappears from Find my iPhone app
January 18, 2012 7:11 PM   Subscribe

Recovering a lost iPad. This afternoon I suffered the grave misfortune of leaving my relatively new iPad 2 in a seatback pocket on an airplane. When I realized what I had done upon arriving in my hotel room, I immediately called the airline and submitted a report. I also attempted to locate the iPad using the Find My iPhone app. Although the app quickly located my other devices, it could not locate the iPad, presumably because the plane was winging its way to another destination. I ordered a remote lock and a message to be sent to the device as soon as it connects, and I went about changing the passwords for services I had used from the device. I have periodically checked the device over the last few hours to see if it shows up, but a few minutes ago, the iPad disappeared entirely from the list of my devices in the app. What would cause it to disappear? I assume this means I am screwed?
posted by monju_bosatsu to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can't speak to what it means if your iPad disappeared from the app, but here's what I'd do.

You mentioned you sent a message to the iPad. As I've mentioned before, my family has gotten back an iPad before (multiple times, I'm afraid to admit) by sending a warm, friendly, appreciative message (with a nice reward promised) and acting as if it is a given that the finder will call.

I think people often behave as we expect them to behave - so treating them with respect and honesty increases your chance of success. I'd give it a second shot if I were you.

Also, call the airport too. When I lost a pair of sunglasses last year (yes, I come from a family that loses things a lot) the airline had turned the sunglasses over to the airport, the airport said that the policy depended on the airline and the airport so YMMV.
posted by arnicae at 7:23 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I hope I am wrong but your ipad disappearing from the list (that populates via gps tracking according to the app) means the GPS locator has been disabled.

If I were going to steal it, that would be my first move.
Then remove all tracking software.
posted by TangerineGurl at 7:29 PM on January 18, 2012

I have hope for you. I was not able to prevent a lock by entering airplane mode, then disabling location services. As soon as I connected to wifi the phone locked anyway. I don't think a thief has had a chance to do a reset.

Unless you think your iCloud account is hacked, it's impossible to remove a device from Find my iPhone updates without without receiving a popup.
posted by michaelh at 7:39 PM on January 18, 2012

Wow, that really sucks. Other people have provided good advice, but I wanted to point out something that hasn't been mentioned:

I would suggest contacting your insurance company assuming that you have property or tenant's insurance and filing a claim depending on what your deductible is (note: they are usually $500) and how much money you spent on the iPad.

I work in the insurance industry and I'm involved with the claims intake process/first notice of loss. I've received quite a few calls from various insured's that have been in similar situations to you.

One woman contacted me because she was in a similar situation to you and forgot her iPad on the train and only realized this after she got home. Another person contacted me because him and his partner spent a few nights on their boat and noticed that someone had stolen quite a few of their smartphones.

Point being: it's a wise idea to contact your insurance company depending on what your deductible is and the cost of your iPad. I would contact your insurance company within the next 24 hours and if you end up finding your iPad then all you have to do is cancel the claim.
posted by livinglearning at 8:38 PM on January 18, 2012

I hope I am wrong but your ipad disappearing from the list (that populates via gps tracking according to the app) means the GPS locator has been disabled.

Or the new owner is in a building or is underground, both of which are effective at keeping GPS from working. Not sure if Wi-fi would help the Find-My-iPhone app work, but I've read that the GPS and Wi-fi signals work together to triangulate the device position more accurately.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:24 PM on January 18, 2012

Or the new owner is in a building or is underground, both of which are effective at keeping GPS from working.

Yes, the GPS would not be working if this were the case, BUT the Find-My-iPhone app would still show the iPad on the list of devices if this were so.

OP, I'm afraid that the locator has been disabled.
posted by moiraine at 12:09 AM on January 19, 2012

Disabling location services shouldn't remove the iPad from the list of devices, just list it as "no location available" in the same way that putting it in airplane mode would. Is it possible you remotely wiped it by mistake rather than remotely locking it?
posted by Catseye at 4:12 AM on January 19, 2012

Thanks to everyone for the answers so far. When I left it, the iPad was already in airplane mode, so the GPS location services were already effectively disabled. I have a call in to Apple to see whether they can definitely answer the question of whether that could remove the device from the list.

I am pretty sure I did not remote wipe the iPad.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:56 AM on January 19, 2012

You didn't remotely wipe the iPad, but the new "owner" may have put it into recovery mode and completely erased it. At that point*, it's functionally a new iPad.

*probably had to remove the SIM too, if it's a 3g model
posted by Oktober at 5:43 AM on January 19, 2012

Oktober, that's exactly what I'm afraid of.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:04 AM on January 19, 2012

Okay, I just got off the phone with Apple support, and according to the guy I talked to, there are two possible reasons for the device disappearing: (1) it was factory wiped; or, more disconcertingly (2) the person who found it simply logged my out of my iCloud account. It seems kind of silly that simply logging out is sufficient to disable Find My iPhone. Either way, it appears that under these circumstances it would have required intentional action by someone to wipe or log out, so I'm assuming that I'm screwed at this point.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:14 AM on January 19, 2012

It seems kind of silly that simply logging out is sufficient to disable Find My iPhone.

I'm sorry this doesn't help with your current situation, but for future iDevices, after you've turned on iCloud's Find My iPhone, go to the Settings app, tap General, then Restrictions and switch "Accounts" to "Don't Allow Changes." You'll be asked to input a new passcode. This passcode protects Restrictions only and should be different than the one you use to unlock your iPad/iPhone from sleep. This will prevent the situation you encountered where someone else turned off iCloud on your device.
posted by jamaro at 1:31 PM on January 19, 2012 [12 favorites]

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