Apple (s aapl) is including a tool in iCloud that should make signing up for it a no-brainer for Mac owners: Find My Mac. Like Find My iPhone, the service provides an approximate location for all a user’s iCloud-connected Macs, so long as they’re connected to Wi-Fi and Find My Mac is turned on. The service went live in the iCloud.com beta late Wednesday.
Find My Mac uses known Wi-Fi tower location databases to pinpoint a Mac’s whereabouts, as it doesn’t have access to cell tower triangulation and GPS technology the way an iPhone or 3G-capable iPad does. Still, it seems to still be fairly accurate, and it also provides users whose Macs have gone missing with the option of locking the screen with a four-digit PIN and erasing the contents of the hard drive remotely. Find My Mac also lets Mac owners play a sound through their Mac’s speakers, and display a message of their own creation on the device’s screen. Even if your Mac is off when you send these commands, they will take effect the next time it’s online.
Once Find My Mac is enabled on a user’s Mac, they can view its location on a map using iCloud.com, and also perform any of the actions listed above from the website. It’s very likely that Macs with the service enabled will also eventually show up in the Find My iPhone apps for iPhone and iPad, too, based on how it works in the browser.
Making Find My Mac a part of the free suite of iCloud services is a smart move by Apple. Because of its role as a data security and anti-theft measure, it should help draw even single-device Mac owners who aren’t interested in email and information syncing features to iCloud, and adoption is going to be crucial to the ultimate success of iCloud. Apple is likely hoping that iCloud will not only attract new users to the Mac and iOS platforms, but also keep them there. Having all your data, purchases, email and documents associated with an account designed to work best on Macs and exclusively on iOS devices should provide lots of motivation not to go looking at competitor products.
Business strategy aside, having the ability to remotely track and wipe your Mac, which is a much more expensive loss than an iPhone, and one that is probably more likely to hold sensitive info for most, is a great boon to Apple customers. Look for it to go live alongside the rest of iCloud this September.