Private-I Brings LoJack To Your iPhone

The iPhone’s sleek design, portability, and high demand make it a prime target for thieves keen to flip the phone for a few hundred dollars. But while Apple has introduced a number of security features to help keep the phone’s memory secure (you can now automatically delete the memory after too many failed password attempts, assuming you use one), until now there hasn’t been an easy to way to actually find a lost phone and get it back.

iPhone developer Mike Schneider thinks he has the answer: Private-I (iTunes link), a LoJack for your iPhone. The 99 cent application will automatically detect your current location using the phone’s GPS or triangulation features (depending which version of the phone you have), and submits the data to an user-defined email address.

Unfortunately, the program has some drawbacks. In order for it to access the phone’s position data and send the notification email, the thief will need to actually open the application from the iPhone’s home screen. The app is designed to be as tempting to thieves as possible, prominently advertising the word “PRIVATE” in bright red letters. If the thief is foolish enough to open the app, they’re presented with a screen saying that ostensibly private images are loading (this gives the app time to pinpoint the phone’s location and shoot off the email).

Private-I is by no means foolproof – any intelligent criminal is going to remove the SIM card as soon as they swipe the phone (and then reset the memory as soon as possible). But for fending off the run-of-the-mill idiot who can’t resist pulling a five finger discount, it could work wonders.

Schneider is also responsible for the handy Direct Line(iTunes link), an app that automatically navigates through corporate phone trees so you can actually talk to someone.