You might be able to find your next lost Apple device — even when it's turned off

Apple iPhone 5s
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Apple is working on an improved way to find a wireless device after shutdown, according to a newly released patent.

Anyone who's lost a pricey iPhone or Apple Watch will tell you it's game-changing.

Currently, Apple's "Find My iPhone" feature, which shows a device's location on a map, must be enabled before your device was lost or stolen to find it, according to Apple's website. That means owners must hope the battery doesn't run out before the device is tracked down.

The new process might use emails or texts to transmit codes, pictures, voice input or patterns, according to the patent, which was released Thursday.

No word from Apple on when the feature might become available, and what device might get it. But in the meantime, if you lose your device when it's off, you can still put it in "lost mode," lock it, or remotely erase it, according to Apple's website.