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Monday, 18 May 2015 00:44

How to 'steal' any smartwatch, not just Apple's Featured

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Apple Watch and Samsung’s Gear S can be protected with a PIN to prevent unauthorised access to watch data, unlike Android Wear or Microsoft Band, but all can be factory reset.

A supposedly huge scandal has erupted across the Internet over the ability to factory reset smartwatches.

Naturally, most of the criticism has fallen at Apple’s feet, after the supposed revelation that you can erase an Apple Watch without needing to first enter in the PIN code - with the details here. 

Noted ‘Fortune’ journalist Philip Elmer-DeWitt wrote an article entitled ‘How to steal an Apple Watch’, but failed to mention that Android Wear, Microsoft Band and Samsung’s Gear watches can also be factory reset in a similar manner.

And while you can set up a PIN to protect Apple Watch and the Galaxy Gear S, Android Wear and Microsoft Band has no such password protection at all.

At least in the case of the Apple Watch, this has led to calls for Apple and other smartwatch makers to develop some kind of ‘kill switch’ should a watch be lost or stolen, as is the case with iPhones that have been set up with an Apple ID.

But how do you type in your Apple ID password on a device that has no keyboard?

Apple could, of course, create some kind of on-screen keyboard for this purpose, but presumably Apple would find some more elegant way of doing things. Maybe a future Touch ID solution, or a voice print, or... something. Apple is surely working on it. 

The short version is that smartwatch makers need to find a way to make stealing a smartwatch as useless as stealing a smartphone, although some thieves don’t care - if they can’t unlock a device, they can always sell it for parts, even if this means a lower price.

Of course, expensive mechanical watches have never had any kind of password, and while there’s no epidemic of watch thefts from people on the street, if you come across thugs whom you cannot defeat with your own ninja-like skills, your watch and other personal items may well be stolen whether they’re password protected or can be factory reset without a verifying ID first.

So, keep your watch safe - whichever watch it is you’re wearing!

In the meantime, here’s how to factory reset the Microsoft Band - look for the section titled ‘Another way to reset’. 

Here’s how to factory reset a Galaxy Gear S. 

Here’s how to factory reset a Galaxy Gear 2. 

Here’s how to factory reset a Galaxy Gear Fit. 

Here’s how to factory reset any Android Wear watch.

And finally, remember folks: all of this means it is the newest giant Apple scandal.

It’s the new password-gate. Factory-reset-gate. Apple-gate. Theft-gate. Stupidity-gate. Moron-gate.  

Just because every smartwatch to date can also be factory reset doesn’t matter. If Apple doesn’t have a way around it, it’s clearly Apple’s fault and everyone else is blameless.

So there. Crunch on that, Apple haters - let the hate flow through you, and soon you will join the dark side of the stolen watch factory reset.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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