PSA: If You Need To Find Your iPhone, Use Safari

With smartphones serving as a primary source of entertainment, a catalog for encrypted passwords, and the sole form of communication for many a geek, few tech-related mishaps suck worse than having your handset stolen. There’s one, though, that almost certainly does: having your handset stolen and having your stolen-handset-retrieval method fail on you in your time of need.

Such was the case for dealnews‘ Lou Carlozo. After some jerk pulled some sleight-of-hand maneuvers and walked off with Lou’s iPhone at a coffee shop, Lou figured he could turn to Apple’s (now free) Find My iPhone feature. In most cases, he’d be right; here, he was left out in the cold, phoneless and frustrated.

When Lou returned to his laptop and booted up Find My iPhone, he was met with a rather nasty notice:

Find My iPhone is unavailable due to a connection error.

Wuh oh — had the coffee shop’s WiFi gone down? Was Find My iPhone just not working right now? Nope. Turns out the answer is a bit simpler, albeit a bit less obvious: he was using Chrome.

You see, Find My iPhone works just fine with pretty much any browser (including Chrome)… as long as you’re on Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6). If you’re on Leopard (OS X 10.5) or earlier, you’ll need to boot into Safari — a requirement which seemingly hasn’t been made very clear. By the time Lou thought to use a different browser (which probably isn’t the first thing you’d think to do when you’re in an “OH GOD MY iPHONE IS GONE” panic), the phone was long gone.

So, consider this a Pro-tip going into the high-theft Holiday season: if your iPhone gets snagged and you need to pull up Find My iPhone on the quick, use Safari (especially if you’re just borrowing someone else’s Mac for a second, as most folks probably couldn’t tell you if they’re running Snow Leopard or not.)

If you’re up for a bit of a read, you can find Lou’s play-by-play of the whole event over here.