Apple issues software update to AirTag tracking devices after users find they can be used to secretly follow people’s movements
Apple has released a software update for its AirTags tracking devices after users complained that they could be used to stalk people.
At the time said it had implemented privacy measures to ensure they could not be used to remotely follow people’s movements.
“The recent introduction of AirTag included industry-first proactive features that discourage unwanted tracking,” Apple said in a statement.
‘Find My’ network
But some users and reviewers, including The Washington Post, found that the measures were ineffective.
Unlike similar products, Apple’s AirTags make use of the company’s Find My network.
When Find My devices are in range of an iPhone, iPad or Mac, they transmit their location. More than 1 billion devices are active on the Find My network.
That means that AirTags can be tracked not only within the user’s immediate location, but also anywhere in the world.
Initially, Apple programmed the devices to emit a sound after they were away from the owner’s iPhone for three days.
In theory, this would prevent them being used to track other people.
But users said the 15-second warning beeps were not necessarily loud enough to be heard over ordinary household noises.
iPhones also include a feature that alerts them when an AirTag they don’t own appears to be “following” them.
Apple has now changed the window of time in which the AirTag will emit its sound warning – to a random time between 8 and 24 hours after the device is out of range of its owner’s iPhone.
The company will also make an Android version of its tracker alert app, to be released sometime later this year.
“Later this year, we will also introduce an Android application that will enable users to detect an AirTag or Find My network-enabled accessory separated from its owner that may be travelling with a user,” the company said.
If a user is alerted that they are being followed by an AirTag, the system helps them to find the tag.
After that they can tap it with an iPhone or other Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled device and follow steps to deactivate it.
Apple said AirTags would automatically download and install the update when in range of an iPhone.
The company’s digital-only World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) takes place from Monday to Thursday this week.