Apple yesterday announced upcoming AirTag updates designed to combat stalking and other unwanted tracking.

"AirTag was designed to help people find their belongings, not to track anyone's or anyone's property, and we strongly condemn any malicious use of our products," Apple said. Thieves have used AirTags to track high-end cars, and stalkers have used the devices to track women. Apple's update confirmed yesterday that the company "has seen reports of bad actors trying to use AirTag for malicious or criminal purposes."

AirTags already have some security features, e.g. B. Beeps if they are not connected to their connected devices for a day. iPhones also get alerts about nearby unknown AirTags. However, the beep can be hard to hear and the timing of the alerts apparently varies. One person who was tracked "said she was notified four hours after her phone first noticed the rogue device," while "others said it was days before they were alerted to an unknown AirTag." December.

Software updates "later this year"
Apple said it will introduce "Precision Search," which "allows recipients of an unwanted tracking alert to precisely locate an unknown AirTag. iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13 users can use Precision Search to view the distance and direction to an unknown AirTag when in range When an iPhone user moves, Precision Finding fuses input from the camera, ARKit, accelerometer, and gyroscope to guide them through a combination of sound, haptic, and feedback visual to lead to the AirTag”.

Apple said the update would be released "later this year," but did not provide any further details on when. Other changes planned for later this year include the following:

Other alerts sent to iOS devices: "When AirTag automatically plays a sound to alert someone nearby of your presence and detects that you are moving with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, we also display an alert on your device where you can take action." ". , such as playing a sound or using Precision Search if available," Apple said. "This helps in cases where the AirTag might be in a hard-to-hear spot, or if the AirTag speaker has been tampered with."
Previous warnings: “Our spam tracking warning system uses sophisticated logic to determine how we warn users. We plan to update our unwanted tracking alert system to notify users sooner that an unknown AirTag or Find My network accessory may be traveling with them,” Apple said.
Louder sounds: “Currently, iOS users who receive an unwanted tracking alert can play a sound that will help them locate the unknown AirTag. We will adjust the tone sequence to use more of the louder tones to make an unknown AirTag easier to locate," Apple said.

Android users are even more at risk
"All progress is good progress, but I still want AirTag detection built into Android," wrote Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in response to Apple's planned updates.

We noted in our May 2021 AirTag review that the security features only help iPhone users and not Android users. In December, Apple released an app "Tracker Detect" for Android to fix this problem, but users need to know about the app and download it from Google Play.

Another issue is that "unlike the functionality Apple has built into the iPhone, which runs constantly in the background, Tracker Detect requires the user to perform a scan," EFF analysts Karen Gullo and Galperin wrote on Dec. 15. The EFF said it was "challenging Google to go a step further and integrate background AirTag tracking and detection of other physical trackers into the Android operating system".

Apple could work with Google to make AirTag recognition a standard part of Android, but Android was not mentioned in Apple's announcement yesterday.