What Is The Difference Between The Find My iPhone App and the Find My iPhone Service ?

In our How To Track Your iPhone page we explain how to configure your iCloud account and iPhone or iPad to use the Find My iPhone service to track your device.  The biggest question and source of confusion for many users is what is the difference between the Find My iPhone configuration and the Find My iPhone App

This page will explain the difference between the Find My iPhone App and the "Configuration"


Watch the video version:


Find My iPhone - THE SERVICE

Find My iPhone is an iCloud service offered by Apple to help locate your iPhone or iPad (and now even your Mac!) should you misplace it.  In order to use the Find My iPhone service, you must configure/set it up on your device.  Once configured you can then use a PC, Mac or another iPhone to track and locate the device.

To Configure Find My iPhone you must go into your iPhone settings and enter your iCloud username and password, then make sure that Find My iPhone is enabled:

Find my iPhone settingsiCloud Settings

Now that Find My iPhone is enabled, the iPhone or iPad is trackable via the iCloud Web page or via the Find My iPhone App on another device.

It is important to note that you must configure the iCloud Find My iPhone service BEFORE you lose your device or before it gets stolen.  There is no way to remotely configure Find My iPhone after your iPhone is gone! 


Find My iPhone - The APP

The Find My iPhone AppThe Find My iPhone App is a free iPhone and iPad app from Apple that allows you to track and locate a device that has been configured to use the Find My iPhone service:

If you misplace your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac, the Find My iPhone app will let you use another iOS device to find it and protect your data. Simply install this free app on another iOS device, open it, and sign in with your Apple ID. Find My iPhone will help you locate your missing device on a map.

As you can see from Apple's description of the app above, the Find My iPhone App is used to locate another device - it is important to note that installing Find My iPhone (the App) on your phone or iPad DOES NOT MAKE IT TRACKABLE -  Installing the Find My iPhone App only allows you to track another device that has been pre-configured with the Find My iPhone service as mentioned above, and on this page: Track your iPhone





  • The Find My iPhone service must be configured on your device BEFORE it can be tracked
  • The Find My iPhone App is used to track another device - and does not in itself make a device trackable
  • The Find My iPhone service is intended to help locate a misplaced device, not to track and confront thieves - leave that to the professionals!




My daughters iPhone was stolen at school and we located the phone using find my iPhone the first night. We notified the officer at her school about the location of the phone hoping he would do something but by the end of the next school day the location was gone and the find my I phone service says it's offline. Is there a chance that it will show us another location?

Because law enforcement has the option, with much paperwork and legal-approval, to go directly to the mobile carrier and use their cell-transmitters to triangulate the location of the device. This is totally different from how the optional and free Find My iPhone service works.

How is it that we have to go thru all of this when we lose a phone and "LAW ENFORCEMENT" can track our phones? I just lost my Iphone yesterday while helping someone broke down. Apparently I left the phone on the bumper when they departed. I did not have the service or ap because I did not know about it. Now they say I was supposed to download the AP and or configure the service. OK, fine. But still, how do the Authorities, get to overide all this? From what I heard, they could go right to my phone.

I dont think there is a good/simple/elegant option for businesses to use Find My iPhone.
You need to create an Apple ID account (or accounts) with an email address and password that the company controls (and the employee does not know), and then configure Find my iPhone on the iPhones with that account, and then enable "restrictions" on the phones so that the employee's can't turn off Location Services or Find My iPhone.

There are two things that the business owner needs to understand and be aware of when using Find My iPhone:
1) With iOS 7, when Find My iPhone is activated, if you ever lose the iCloud password, or if the employee knows/uses that iCloud account to "lock" or 'wipe' the phone, the iPhone is effectively a brick. Once locked or wiped, if you don't have the iCloud password, not even apple can help you - that phone is literally broken. Even when not locked or wiped, without that iCloud password you will never be able to upgrade/restore the phone, or change iCloud account options.
2) Depending on where you are located there may be severe legal restrictions or guidelines on attaching what is effectively a 24/7 GPS tracker to your employees as part of their employment.

Our business owns six iPhones. Last year we had to replace three of them because they were lost, only to fine them later under the set of one of our vehicles or was left in someone's office within the plant. So what we want to do is have the ability to track the devices to find them. How do we set that up within our office


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