Apple AirTags Get A Major Anti-Stalking Privacy Update, Here's How It Works
Apple has updated its AirTag to help people be able to detect when an unknown AirTag is in their immediate vicinity. The long overdue firmware update is part of the company's effort to make it more difficult for bad actors to misuse the device to stalk unknowing victims.
Since an investigative report in The Washington Post made light of Apple AirTags being used to stalk people, the company has been under fire for seemingly not having the forethought to guard against the abuse of the devices. The thought of someone being able to easily place an AirTag on an unwitting victim and be able to accurately track them is disturbing. Now, the company is attempting to address the issue with its latest firmware update, 2.0.24, with a Precision Finding feature and a bug fix for the device's accelerometer.
The Precision Finding feature will give a user the ability to "locate an unknown AirTag" if it detects one moving along with you. It will also send a notification telling the user "when an AirTag that's separated from its owner is traveling with you." The found device will begin emitting a sound, loud enough so that it will be easily located. This falls in line with a previous update, which increased the volume of an AirTag. Previously the Precision Finding feature was only available to an owner's registered device(s).
Along with the Precision Finding feature, there is also a fix for the AirTag's accelerometer. Before, the AirTag was not activating in certain scenarios. This fix will help an iPhone more accurately detect if your AirTag, or an unknown one, is moving along with you.
It is important to note that this feature is only available to iPhone owners. Android users only have the basic Tracker Detect app that relies on manually scanning for AirTags during various intervals. There are third-party apps, such as AirGuard, which offer an automatic safeguard. Perhaps the next step for Apple will be ensuring owners of Android smartphones have the same level of security.
If you happen to find an AirTag that has been separated from its owner, the first thing you should do is remove its battery. This is achieved by pushing down on the center of the back panel and spinning it counterclockwise. You should then take the device to the local police station, where the serial number can help identify the owner.