Apple’s AirTag: A Blessing and a Curse in the World of Tracking

In the whirlwind of tech innovations in 2021, Apple unveiled the AirTag, a device that combines advanced Bluetooth tracking capabilities with wideband technology. It was not seen as a beacon for the wave of augmented reality but also as a clever solution for frequently misplaced items like the elusive TV remote. However concerns about cybersecurity quickly overshadowed its debut. Experts expressed caution regarding misuse of this gadget for purposes such as stalking.

These concerns were not unfounded. Many women shared stories of discovering AirTags hidden in their handbags or secretly attached to their vehicles. This unsettling misuse prompted police departments across the United States to issue alerts. While Apples AirPods offer tracking features their higher price discourages abuse.

Taking action to address these concerns Apple implemented firmware upgrades in 2022 to deter malicious activities. Despite competition from alternatives like Tile on the market Apples AirTag stands out due to its integration with the brands ecosystem. From uses, like the US Drug Enforcement Administration utilizing it to trace drug shipments to more controversial cases where it aided a Texan in locating and confronting a car thief, the prevalence of AirTag is undeniable.

If you’re worried, about the possibility of being tracked by an AirTag here are a few indicators to consider.

To detect AirTags, iPhone users with iOS 14.5 and higher versions should receive an alert if an unfamiliar AirTag is detected nearby for a period of time. The exact duration of this alert is unspecified by Apple. To ensure this feature works make sure Bluetooth is turned on enable Location Services in your Privacy & Security settings and activate Find My iPhone.

When a foreign AirTag is detected iPhones offer the option to sound an alarm on the AirTag itself to help locate it. If you’re using iOS 16.2 or later versions, precision location can even pinpoint its hiding place.

Android users are not left out either. Apple has introduced the Tracker Detect app which allows scans for AirTags. Additionally Google has implemented alerts for Bluetooth trackers on Android devices running version 6.0 or newer.

However relying on Bluetooth scanners may be inconsistent as suggested by Eva Galperin, a cybersecurity expert at the Electronic Frontier Foundation based on her experiments.

For those without smartphones, visual and auditory cues might be your option. The slightly larger than a coin AirTag might emit a beep if it becomes separated from its owner for, than a day.

However it’s important not to fully rely on this method – many people have come up with ways to silence this sound.

If you come across an AirTag the way to disable it is by removing its battery. All you have to do is press down on the Apple logo and twist it counterclockwise. The back will come off revealing the battery inside.

If you suspect that the AirTag may have been used with intent it’s advisable to inform law enforcement. They can work together with Apple to track down the owner using the devices number. This number can be accessed by holding an NFC enabled smartphone near the AirTag or by checking for a printed version, on the device itself.