Here’s How Apple Will Work to Fight AirTag Stalking

AirTags

As a location-tracking device, AirTags can help you find lost items. But location trackers can also be used on people, and most of these incidents are for ill. Apple released a report on Thursday about its plans to fight AirTag stalking.

Near-Future Updates

Apple opens the press release by saying “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.” The company is also actively working with law enforcement on cases of unwanted tracking. Updates to AirTag and the Find My network are coming, and here’s what they are.

  • New privacy warnings during AirTag setup. Every user setting up their AirTag for the first time will see a message that says the AirTag is meant to track their own belongings, that using AirTag to track people without consent is a crime in many regions around the world, that AirTag is designed to be detected by victims, and that law enforcement can request identifying information about the owner of the AirTag.
  • Addressing alert issues for AirPods. Some users had reported that AirPods were showing up as an Unknown Accessory. The alert that users will be updated to indicate that AirPods have been traveling with them instead of an Unknown Accessory.
  • Updated support documentation. Today Apple is updating its unwanted tracking support article to communicate the safety features built into AirTag, AirPods, and Find My network accessories. This page now includes additional explanations of which Find My accessories may trigger an unwanted tracking alert, and other improvements.

Far-Future Updates

  • Precision Finding. This capability allows recipients of an unwanted tracking alert to locate an unknown AirTag with precision. iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13 users will be able to use Precision Finding to see the distance and direction to an unknown AirTag when it is in range.
  • Display alert with sound. When AirTag automatically emits a sound to alert anyone nearby of its presence and is detected moving with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, an alert on your device will also be displayed that you can then take action on, like playing a sound or using Precision Finding, if available.
  • Refining unwanted tracking alert logic. The unwanted tracking alert system uses an algorithm to determine how users are alerted. Apple plans to update its unwanted tracking alert system to notify users earlier that an unknown AirTag or Find My network accessory may be traveling with them.
  • Tuning AirTag’s sound. Currently, iOS users receiving an unwanted tracking alert can play a sound to help them find the unknown AirTag. Apple will be adjusting the tone sequence to use more of the loudest tones to make an unknown AirTag more easily findable.

Apple also mentions a list of updates coming later this year.

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tedlandau

Apple’s press release doesn’t seem to cover one of the concerns raised by a friend of mine: What if you have an AirTag in your car and your car is stolen. Now what if the thief has an iPhone? You DO NOT want him getting an alert that there is a tracking device in the car. I am not sure if or how Apple has addressed this.