Police Issue Strong Warning To Parents About A Controversial New iPhone Feature

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The Oakland Sherriff’s Office in Michigan is warning parents about the NameDrop feature of Apple’s iPhones. This feature is found on the smartphone maker’s latest iOS release, iOS 17. Apple says that “NameDrop allows users to easily share contact information by simply bringing their iPhones together, or by bringing an iPhone and Apple Watch together.”

While it’s a convenient way to share contact information, the Oakland Sherriff’s Office believes that would-be criminals might misuse it to obtain contact information from someone who didn’t intend to share it. The issue is that this feature is turned on by default when an iPhone is updated to iOS 17, so an iPhone user might not know that they have already enabled the feature.

To pull off some kind of attack using this new feature the devices need to be extremely close together, making it less likely. However, it is still possible so it’s not a surprise that law enforcement officials felt the need to raise concerns about it.

It's important to note, however, that just touching one iPhone or Apple Watch to another is not enough for a malicious actor to steal contact information from idle iPhones. The devices must both be unlocked, and both users get a full-screen prompt asking if they want to share their own personal information or just receive contact information from the other party.

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Regardless, this feels like a forced error by Apple with the decision to enable it by default, although it’s not alone in the world of tech with these type of feature decisions. The iPhone maker should have taken the time to explain this new feature during onboarding after a user updates to iOS 17, so that they could have made a choice about whether they want to use it or not.

For anyone looking to disable this feature, the following steps will do so:
1. Go to “Settings.”
2. Select “General.”
3. Select “Airdrop.”
4. Switch the toggle for “Bringing Devices Together” to off.

On an semi-related note, there are some great Cyber Monday deals going on now on Apple products, if you're looking for bargains.