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Siri can help you return a lost iPhone, or mess with its rightful owner

There might be the occasional time in your life when you come across a lost iPhone, and if you think how precious you consider your own blower to be, returning it to its rightful owner naturally makes sense. Thankfully, even if the device is locked, asking Siri a particular question could you point you in the right direction.

Apple’s made a decent job of ensuring lost iPhones can be returned to their rightful owners, whether that be through use of the Find My iPhone app, placing the phone in Lost Mode to display appropriate contact information or just having an identifier message as a lock screen, but this new method adds yet another option to the roster in the form of Siri.

Presumed iPhone owner Sriram Krishnan recently took to Twitter to reveal a discovery he made when conversing with Apple’s digital personal assistant. While his device was locked, he found that asking ‘Whose phone is this’ would bring up the owner’s contact card, including any extra information, such as additional phone numbers and addresses they might have entered. Naturally as you can see in the screenshots this could prove particularly useful should somebody find your iPhone and want to track you down to return it.

As OSXDaily.com, who first reported on Sriram’s findings noted, asking, ‘Who owns this iPhone’ will also produce the same result although, ‘Whose iPhone is this?’ oddly doesn’t appear to work, so switch the phrase around if you’re not getting anything from Siri. There are other variables to making this trick work too, such as whether or not the user has Siri enabled or the iPhone in question is new enough to support Siri outright.

Siri screenshot 1 Siri screenshot 2

It’s also worth nothing that if you tap the ‘?’ when opening Siri you’re given a list of ‘Some things you can ask me’ note the ‘Some’. We’re not entirely sure how long this feature has been part of Siri’s repertoire, but it isn’t readily mentioned, so we’re glad Sriram unearthed it.

There is, unfortunately, a darker side to this functionality too. Should a thief nab your iPhone or somebody find it without intending to return it to you, this feature also gives him or her plenty of information about you. My contact card, for example, is packed with everything from mobile and home numbers to various email addresses, home addresses, family relations and even my birthday. Whatever contact information resides under the card in your address book, will be displayed on your lock screen should somebody ask Siri.

As such, whilst offering enough information so as to give any potential good samaritan the best chance of contacting you is key, be smart about which details you leave open to prying eyes. And should you be on the other side of this story, looking for a rightful owner, dropping the device into your nearest Apple Store might also be a smart move, as they’ve been known to track device owners using mystical Apple tech they keep in the back rooms (note: the previous statement isn’t actually true, they probably just be able to check a database of Apple IDs tied to device IMEIs or serial numbers).

So next time you come across an iPhone down the back of a coffee shop seat cushion, talk to it, it just might point you in the right direction.

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