AirTag Safety: How Apple Is Making Users Safer From Stalkers
Stalkers love AirTags. But Apple is making changes to throat them.
Apple’s AirTags are great little devices that allow you to track whatever item they are attached to. For example, an AirTag in a wallet can help you locate it if you’ve left it behind. Or an airbag taped to your bicycle could help track it down if it goes missing.
But unfortunately, there are people out there who will use any technology for bad. This is no different for AirTags. Since their introduction, some shady people have been using AirTags to stalk people or even help them steal cars. And now, Apple itself has acknowledged this is a problem:
“AirTag was designed to help people locate their personal belongings, not to track people or another person’s property, and we condemn in the strongest possible terms any malicious use of our products. Unwanted tracking has long been a societal problem, and we took this concern seriously in the design of AirTag…
“We’ve become aware that individuals can receive unwanted tracking alerts for benign reasons, such as when borrowing someone’s keys with an AirTag attached, or when traveling in a car with a family member’s AirPods left inside. We also have seen reports of bad actors attempting to misuse AirTag for malicious or criminal purposes.”Apple
That being said, Apple says that in discussions with law enforcement, “incidents of AirTag misuse are rare.” However, the company has gone on to announced that it is enhancing AirTag safety measures to ensure the public are better protected from those who will misuse the devices. Those protections include:
- Warning that police can identify AirTag users: an upcoming software update will make it clear to a user setting up a new AirTag for the first time that the AirTag will be registered to their Apple ID and Apple will turn over the user’s information and indemnity if requested by law enforcement.
- AirTag sound alerts will get louder: When a person is alerted to an unknown AirTag traveling with them, they have the option of playing a sound on it so they can track it down. In an update later this year, Apple will boost the volume of the sound that comes from the AirTag, making it easier to be heard.
- Earlier stalking update: Currently Apple waits a longer amount of time than is desirable before its software automatically alerts a user that an unknown AirTag is traveling with them. Apple is making adjustments to the algorithms that run this to send updates to people sooner, which will give them a quicker heads up that they may be being tracked.
- Precision finding comes to unknown AirTags: Another big improvement coming to AirTags is that users who are signaled that an unknown AirTag is traveling with them will be able to use precision finding to track it down. Precision finding for on iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13 series and uses the U1 chipset to give hyperlocal directions to an AirTag.
While all these improvements are welcome, Apple has not said when they will launch–only giving the timeframe of later this year. However, it’s important to note that the majority of AirTag user cases are benign: people buy AirTags to track lost items.
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