Apple reveals further details about AirTag's anti-stalking feature
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Alongside iPhone notifications when someone else's AirTag is with you, Apple has designed more ways to prevent malicious tracking — or theft.
When Apple unveiled its new AirTag tracking device, it also explained how iPhone users could detect when someone else is using one to track them. Apple then later outlined how people without iPhones could avoid being stalked using this technology, but now executives have revealed more.
According to Fast Company, Apple says privacy was paramount from the start of development. And that the company sees this as its key differentiator from rival firms, although Apple did not name any.
"When it came to designing our own product, we thought carefully about how to get this right in a way that no one else in the industry's ever done before," Kaiann Drance, Apple's VP of worldwide iPhone product marketing, told Fast Company. "You'll see that we designed for the privacy of AirTag owners and non-owners, as well as making these benefits opened up to third-party products as well."
An iPhone user will automatically receive a notification that an unknown AirTag has been following them. Non-iPhone users can't have that feature, but Apple has two solutions.
The first is to do with alerting someone that they are being tracked. If the AirTag owner is apart from their device for around three days, the AirTag will make a sound.
The idea is that the sound will alert a non-iPhone user to the existence of the tracking device, and hopefully help them locate it.
Beyond this, though, there is the issue of what to do about being tracked in this way. And Apple has considered that too.
"If you're being tracked you could contact law enforcement," continues Drance. The owner of an AirTag can be identified by Apple when authorities request it.
"What the serial number is used for," says Drance, "is when you first set up your AirTag. It is paired with an Apple ID, along with some additional information such as your name, your email address, your date of birth, and things like that, which [Apple] could provide to law enforcement if asked for, with the proper warrants and process."
AirTag has also been designed so that Android phones can read information from them. Given that, the serial number, and the sound that an AirTag can play, Apple reportedly believes that stalkers will be deterred from using AirTag.
Similarly, the company believes that there will be few thefts of AirTags, once they've been used. Just as iPhone thefts have been radically reduced because of Apple's iPhone Activation Lock, so every AirTag is paired to one owner.
A lost or stolen AirTag cannot be used with someone else's iPhone. It has to be unpaired first, and that means theft is likely to be rare.
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