back to article Locked iPhones still got their ears on

The iPhone passcode has never been particularly secure, but now it seems that a locked handset will respond to a good talking-to, unless the user remembers to opt out. iPhones locked with a passcode PIN, which should prevent thieves and prankster friends from operating the phone, can still be used to make calls thanks to a …


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  1. jake Silver badge

    One wonders ...

    What would happen if one were to step into a typically crowded[1] iThingie store, whistle, and when all eyes are silent and locked on you, say loudly & clearly "Call Mom" ...

    [1] Why is it that iThingie stores always have crowds of people clutching iThingies spilling into the street (or food court at the Mall) ... If they already have their iThingie, surely they should just get on with using it? Or maybe TheGreatUnwashed[tm] have a dirty little secret ... they are too stupid to figure out how to use their iThingies ,,,

    1. Grant Mitchell


      What would likely happen is everyone would stare at you like you're mad... What wouldn't happen is a lot of calls to "Mom" (or Mum/Mother if you live on the right side of the pond). If you read the article, you might realise it's triggered by holding down the "home" key, not on all the time.

      This really is a non-story :(.

    2. Seanie Ryan

      i'm definitely wondering....

      when you say 'call mom' loudly, are you going to do a Hiro Nakamura on it and stop time and go to each phone and hold down the home button for 3 secs to activate the voice dial?

      otherwise I think they will all look past you, waiting for the men in white coats to appear .. ;-)

      and most likely the people spilling out of the stores with "iThingies" have just bought it, the clue being that they just left the store that sell them, meaning that the didnt already own one...

      ah, its friday.. maybe you have a long week and need a pint...

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        depends on where you are

        If you were in the UK you would probably be arrested as a terrorist suspect. Or shot. Depends on your accent too.

  2. Annihilator

    Insert witty, succinct summary of post here

    "It's not a huge deal"

    The author of this article is Steve Jobs and I claim my £5

  3. JeffyPooh Silver badge

    "...thieves and prankster friends..."

    Mobe security systems need to include consideration of the fact that many people that may discover a lost phone are perfectly honest, and they'd just like to return it to the rightful owner as quickly and simply as possible. The overall security, locking, Find-My-Iphone scheme should include a facility that allows the honest finder to make contact with the owner (obviously via some means other than their phone). If the only interface is just a passcode lock screen, it isn't exactly making it easy for the finder.

    When my son's Ipod Touch was 'borrowed', the screen lock passcode prevented the 'borrower' from connecting to his wifi hotspot, which prevented the Ipod from connecting to the Internet, which prevented the Find-My-Iphone ( feature from working. Not an issue with Iphones, but still an indication that the overall scheme hasn't really been fully sorted. Borrower was forced by his parents to return the 'borrwed' Ipod back to school.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good point

      After nearly losing a phone on the train (had me panicking for a moment I tell you) I added my works phone number to the display so there's a landline the finder can call (should they want to)

    2. Steve Evans


      A truly locked phone would be pretty hard to return to the owner unless the owner realised the phone was lost and called it before the 24 hours of operation the average super smart phone can manage had expired.

      I did find an N95 8gig a few years ago in a pub. Luckily it wasn't locked, so I called the last two people the owner had called and explained the situation. One of the people was a work mate who would be seeing the owner next morning, so I left my number so they could call me.

      A few days later the phone was back with its owner, and I earnt a couple of free beers after work, which is always nice.

  4. Shakje

    Haven't tried making calls...

    but my iPhone 4 still activates voice control when locked even with that option tabbed off...

  5. colin79666

    Erm No

    WTF this isn't a discovery. Of course voice dialling works without inputting a pin, how else are you supposed to make a hands free call?!

    1. Thomas 18
      Thumb Down

      Functionality > Security


    2. BingBong

      Yes it still allows ipod control and ..

      if you look at the screendump IT TELLS YOU THIS.

      So you steal someone's iphone and listen to their music until they remotely clear it (assuming it gets a signal).

      This is a minor issue. It is detailed in the iphone user manual both under "security features" and "general settings" ... of course if people don't read manuals then they get the defaults which for most consumer devices has a tendency to be open and lets everything work without lockdowns. Whether it should be fully secured by default is up for debate .. I would prefer a big "go secure" switch (much like "Airplane Mode") which sets secure or insecure defaults which can then be finely tuned.

      It amounts to a non-issue compared with malware infested apps downloadable from non-curated App Stores though 8-}

    3. rcdicky

      That's because...

      The option says "voice dialling" and the options are on and off

      It's not an option to turn off voice control completely - L2Read

  6. Mike Shepherd

    "Apple is maintaining its traditional silence on the matter..."

    I wouldn't want to judge without the full information, so it would be interesting to know what enquiries have been made and with how much enthusiasm.

    If Apple's official position is indeed persistently to say nothing on matters which have given rise to legitimate customer enquiries, it's difficult (whatever the size of the company) to regard them as more than "cowboys".

    I don't have any Apple products. Speaking to those who have, they appear to be genuinely impressed by their features, much less by the reliability and customer service. Maybe this can work for disposable toys or for equipment I can maintain myself, but not for a car or other complex equipment on which my livelihood depends.

  7. RainForestGuppy

    Non story

    I'm not the biggest Apple fan in the world. but where is the story here?

    There is feature that allows you to voice dial when the hand set lock is on. So what, it's a customisable setting.

    Is it a slow news day in El Reg office? Why don't you just go done the pub instead?

    I can actually think of a good use for this, if you were in an emergency situation where you couldn't get to your phone you could just shout "Call 911"

    1. Steven Knox Silver badge


      From a security perspective this IS a story -- because it's a security-related option defaulted to the less secure setting and no clearly defined warning that that is the case.

      For average users, this is not much of an issue, but for an organization considering allowing iPhones to be used for corporate purposes, information like this is very important to have.

      1. rcdicky

        I disagree

        The option is clear as day when you turn the passcode on - if you're not reading what's on the screen that's your too bad...

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's a security weakness around music too

    Even with voice dial off and passcode prootection on, someone can still simply double click the home button and start playing the last track you were listening too. You might not think of that as a security weakness but a) if you've just found out you've got epilepsy and were listening to a podcast on coming to terms with it, it is an issue, and b) out of principle it should be a choice for your music to be private.

  10. Clive 3


    How is holding down the Home key hands free?

    The fact that you have to press a key surely makes it not hands free

  11. Iain Gilbert

    Security issue

    The security issue is that as long as you have a clear voice you can dial any number you want even if it's not in the phone book

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Oh no!!!

      .. if I'm drunk there's no chance I can call a cab with a slurred voice!


      No, not really, but I felt I had to come to an irrelevant conclusion. Sorry about that. I'll take my meds now.

  12. Sp1derba1t


    would i be correct in saying this is true of blackberries and most phones with a button dedicated voice dialling? you can also shock horror actually skip and replay tracks without unlocking it, and EVEN use the voice dialling to choose who you want it to play and to create a genius playlist. Handy when iv got it connected to my incar stereo.

    Infact id like to go as far as saying working in a phone shop iv actually noticed that pressing back when windows phones asks you for a sim pin actually quits the request and you can carry on accessing all the menu's for a time before the laggy software catches back up and re brings up the request, but hey presto pressing the back or end call button gives the same result again........

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      not uncommon

      If you want Blackberries to work with bluetooth hands free you have to exclude your contact list from protected/encrypted data or type in the password everytime.

  13. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Up

    Er ...

    ISTR posting this information last time the subject came up. Maybe your eagle-eyed reporters should read the comments section :p

  14. Oninoshiko

    We need an investigation!!

    My BB does the same thing!! (unless you turn it off)

    Seriously, if it's a setting that can be changed, I find it hard to call it a "bug."

  15. JT13

    It's not a bug, it's a feature...

    It's clearly working as intended. What's the story here? If you don't want your passcode lock circumvented in this way, then turn off this feature - the option is RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU in the same configuration screen.

  16. Steve Hodson

    Big deal or no?

    It appears to default to 'Off'...what's the big deal here? Another non-even iPhone 'bashing' ?

  17. rcdicky

    I guess this story is useful...

    to highlight to the people who don't know the option is there

    It really should have been tackled from the "did you know?" viewpoint rather than the "OMG Apple is FAIL" viewpoint

    But hey - people know about it now so guess the article has served a purpose... kinda

  18. Paul 135

    is most likely by design

    to allow you to call emergency services quickly.

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