"Apple has been very vague as to what the system will do," Gascon said at the news conference earlier Thursday. "We've been led to believe that it is not a 'kill switch.'"
Gascon was particularly critical of Apple, saying that he had met with the company in January but was rebuffed by executives.
"The industry has a moral and social obligation to fix this problem," Gascon said.
To drive home their point about the danger of violent smartphone thefts, authorities introduced relatives of 23-year-old Megan Boken, who was shot and killed in St. Louis in 2012 by an assailant who was trying to steal her iPhone.
Boken was chatting with her mother on the phone at the time, said her father, Paul Boken.
"All of a sudden, the phone went blank," he told reporters. "Megan never picked the phone up again."
In New York, police have coined the term "Apple-picking" to describe thefts of the popular iPhone and other mobile products, like iPads. Phone thefts comprise 40 percent of all robberies in New York City, authorities say.
Authorities are pushing for the industry to move ahead quickly with this new security-focused technology. By early next year, all smartphones should be equipped with the new protective software, Schneiderman said.