In the months since Apple’s AirTags went on sale last spring, there have been stories of bad actors using the lost item tracker to stalk people. One of the most publicized incidents occured at the start of the year when model Brooks Nader said someone had placed an AirTag in her coat to track her movements for several hours. In an update published today, Apple said it would take additional steps to prevent incidents like that from happening.
In the immediate future, the company will update the device to add a new warning that every user will see when they set up their AirTag for the first time. The notification will remind you that tracking someone without their consent is a crime in many places and that police can request your information from Apple if you misuse the device. To that point, the company notes it has worked with law enforcement on multiple occasions in the past to trace misused AirTags back to their original owners.
At the same time, the company will update its AirPods Pro, AirPods Max and third-generation AirPods, as well as third-party devices that can connect to its Find My network, so that you don’t get an “Unknown Accessory Detected” alert on your iPhone. Instead, iOS will more clearly indicate you’re traveling with a pair of someone else’s AirPods to reduce confusion.
Apple has also updated a support document on its website dedicated to unwanted tracking to include additional on what to do if you believe someone is using its devices to stalk you. The company has additionally added links to organizations like the National Center for Victims of Crime to help those who believe their safety may be at risk.
Later in the year, the company will update the iPhone 11, iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 to add a precision finding feature that will allow individuals with those devices to find their way to an unknown AirTag. The tool will display the direction of and distance to an unwanted AirTag. Apple says it also plans to update its unwanted tracking alerts to notify people earlier that someone may be stalking. Lastly, the company will tweak the sound an AirTag emits to ensure it’s as loud as possible and add a backup visual alert you’ll see on your iPhone.
“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 said. “We design our products to provide a great experience, but also with safety and privacy in mind. Across Apple’s hardware, software, and services teams, we’re committed to listening to feedback.”