Apple announces new AirTag updates to address unwanted tracking
Apple has announced several new AirTag updates coming soon to address unwanted tracking and stalking concerns, these include Apple working with safety groups and law enforcement agencies to better protect users against malicious tracking through new alerts and documentation.
In a press release shared to the Apple Newsroom on Thursday, the iPhone maker said “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 has been working closely with various safety groups and law enforcement agencies. Through our own evaluations and these discussions, we have identified even more ways we can update AirTag safety warnings and help guard against further unwanted tracking.”
In an upcoming software update, Apple will add new messages to users who set up their AirTag for the first time that states that 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.
The company has acknowledged that some users have been receiving an “Unknown Accessory Detected” alert mistakenly when their iPhone detects their AirPods nearby. In the same software update, Apple says it will be updating the alert users receive to indicate that AirPods have been traveling with them instead of an “Unknown Accessory.”
Today Apple is updating its unwanted tracking support article online 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, more visuals to provide specific examples of such alerts, and updated information on what to do after receiving an alert, including instructions for disabling an AirTag, AirPods, or Find My network accessory.
Apple has also shared some further AirTag updates it plans to introduce later this year. These include giving the recipients of an unwanted tracking alert the ability to locate an unknown AirTag with Precision Finding, notifications on a user’s iPhone, iPad or iPod touch when an AirTag emits a sound to alert anyone nearby of its presence – this will help in cases where the AirTag may be in a location where it is hard to hear, or if the AirTag speaker has been tampered with.
Apple also plans to refine the general AirTag unwanted tracking alert logic and adjust the tone sequence to use more of the loudest tones to make an unknown AirTag more easily findable.