Apple improving AirTag privacy to limit secret tracking

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In April Apple announced a rather interesting accessory in the form of its AirTag, which on the surface were designed to help people keep track of important items or something that could very easily be lost or misplaced. In the weeks since its release though, we’ve seen reports that the AirTags are almost too good at their job and have been used for more nefarious tracking.

In order to address this, Apple says it is working on a privacy-focused software update that will make nefarious tracking far harder to pull off.

According to CNET, Apple has begun sending out said updates to AirTags which shortens the period of time the devices play noises, specifically when the company thinks they’re being used to track a person. To that end, the initial three day period between sounds going off will be decreased to an eight to 24 hour period, which should hopefully alert anyone who is being tracked by an AirTag.

“The recent introduction of AirTag included industry-first proactive features that discourage unwanted tracking,” the company told CNET in a statement. The announcement also comes just before its WWDC 21 developer conference kicks off on 7th June, which is no doubt an event where the issue of privacy would be brought up.

Along with the software update being rolled out to devices, Apple says it is also working on an alert app for Android users. Much like the iOS version, it would alert a user should an AirTag be in their vicinity, letting them know that someone may be trying to track them without their consent. No precise date has been outlined for this Android alert app, but it is said to be launching later this year.

While the handiness of the AirTag cannot be overstated, it goes without saying that privacy for devices like this need to be a core part of design, so hopefully Apple will be working on this moving forward for other similar products.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.