Apple has silently removed an extremely popular and some argue essential security feature, which allows iPhone and iPad owners to check the status of their device’s activation lock. The feature is designed to make it possible for owners of Apple devices to determine whether or not they have been locked to another owner, which can be useful in determining their legitimacy.
Previously available through iCloud.com, the feature could be activated by entering the serial number of a second-hand iOS device, which would then provide information that may suggest that the iPhone or iPad purchased was lost or stolen from its original owner. The facility proved particularly popular among both sellers and buyers of second-hand iOS devices via sites like eBay, who could exchange this information prior to purchase and in doing so avoid purchasing devices locked to other Apple IDs.
Without any specific announcement or explanation as to why, the security feature appears to have been removed by Apple. Previously, the site featured a message reading: “When you buy an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple Watch from someone other than Apple or an authorized Apple reseller, it is up to you to ensure that the device is erased and no longer linked to the previous owner’s account,”
“You can check the current Activation Lock status of a device when you visit icloud.com/activationlock from any Mac or PC.”
As of today, the same site simply features a 404 error.
So far, all questions to Apple with regard to the motivation for the feature’s withdrawal or any future plans to reinstate or replace the feature with a similar tool have gone unanswered.