The fraudulent use that some people have made of the AirTag to locate victims of theft or harassment has put Apple on the tab. The company has announced a series of measures to reduce this unintended use of its tags which will be applied in future iOS updates.
More alerts, more notifications and warnings for users
The changes include warnings to users and some new features in how the AirTag works:
In the near future, when we set up an AirTag, we will receive a warning that the tag is intended to be able to locate personal items and that using it to hunt people is a crime in most countries of the world. An alert mentioning that we are traveling with “an unknown accessory” when this accessory is in fact AirPods will be resolved. This is a bug that was causing confusion for some people. The AirTag support documentation is updated, providing more details on what to do if we suspect someone is tracking our movements with an AirTag. A future iOS update will allow you to find someone else’s AirTag using the precise search feature available on iPhone 11, 12 and 13. Until now, it could only be used with our own AirTags. A new visual notification on iOS/iPadOS devices will appear when a foreign AirTag beeps to let you know it’s traveling with you. It will be useful when this AirTag is intentionally hidden in a place where it sounds very little, or if someone has tampered with the AirTag so that it does not ring. The logic algorithm that determines when to notify us that a foreign AirTag is with us will be improved so that we are notified sooner. AirTags will make sounds even louder so they can be heard from further away.
Apple took advantage of the statement to “condemn in the strongest terms” the fraudulent use of AirTags, recalling that each of these tags has a unique serial number which is linked to an Apple ID. In other words, Apple remembers that it’s easy to track someone with the intent to commit crimes with AirTags.
For the same reason, Apple also comments that it has worked with law enforcement, collected experiences, and provided assistance to continue finding new ways to protect users from this inappropriate use of AirTags. The company doesn’t specify when we’ll see these changes, but we guess we won’t have to wait too long as it’s a security issue. While you wait, remember that you can easily tell if a foreign AirTag is nearby.