The AirTag has been misused by several criminals. Aware of the abuses, Apple will put in place a series of measures to fight against harassment and espionage. An update will notably make it possible to locate a spy beacon with precision and display an alert on the screen if an unknown tracker starts ringing.
Since the launch last April, the AirTag has been massively used for malicious purposes. According to testimonies and police reports, some car thieves use it to track their victims to their homes. In other cases, the Bluetooth beacon has been diverted from its original purpose, ie to locate lost objects, to track single women.
However, Apple has safeguards in place to prevent misuse. iPhones constantly check that an unknown AirTag is not hidden nearby. If a beacon is detected, a notification appears on the screen to warn the user. To protect themselves from clandestine AirTags, Android users are invited to install a dedicated app on the Play Store. Aware of the inadequacy of these measures, the Cupertino giant has just announced an update to its accessory.
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Apple fixes its AirTag to deter criminals
First, Apple will warn users as soon as the beacon is configured. There is no question of breaking the law by using an Airtag. “Every user who sets up their AirTag for the first time will receive a clear message that AirTag is intended to track their own belongings, that using AirTag to track people without consent is a crime”explains Apple.
Next, Apple will improve the alert announcing that a “unknown accessory is detected”. Now, this alert will only show up if any lost AirPods are spotted nearby and will specify that they are just headphones. This measure aims to avoid unnecessary fear to users. Apple also announces that it has completed the support sheet for people who discover that an AirTag is located nearby in order to provide additional information.
The American giant is also committed to allowing users of an iPhone 11, iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 (all models with a U1 chip) to “locate an unknown AirTag accurately”. In the same vein, Apple will now display an alert on the screen on iPhone as soon as an unknown tracker starts ringing.
Separated from the iPhone with which it is paired, the beacon rings indeed automatically after several hours. But this ringtone was found to be insufficient to prevent abuse. This measure also aims to respond to the appearance of AirTags tampered with to facilitate espionage.
“We will also display an alert on your device where you can then take action, such as ringing it again”, details the company. Finally, the speakers will be able toemit a much more powerful sound than currently to be heard by a possible victim of harassment. All these new features will be integrated into a future iOS update, says Apple.