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Apple and Google's tracker misuse feature spotted in beta code

An AirTag won't track anybody, if the battery is removed.

The new beta release of iOS 17.5 contains code referring to the now long-promised expansion of anti-stalking measures for AirTags and other tracking devices.

Originally announced in May 2023, the new system is a collaboration between Apple and Google. It's intended to be an industry standard that means both iPhone and Android users get sufficient warning when being tracked by any device.

Now Apple has released beta test versions of the forthcoming iOS 17.5, text within the code shows a new warning that could be displayed to users in the Find My app.

"This item isn't certified on the Apple Find My network," says the main one, as spotted by 9to5mac. "You can disable this item and stop it from sharing its location with the owner."

Conceivably, the Find My app could do something to actively disable a rogue AirTag. It's not impossible that it could use the serial number to block that specific AirTag and so prevent it being used for stalking.

However, the feature is likely to be more basic than that. For the main warning message continues with the phrase, "To do this [disabling the tracker], follow the instructions provided on a website by the manufacturer of this item."

While the text confirms that Apple is working on the delayed feature, it is not yet functioning in even the beta of iOS 17.5. So although it's likely to be released shortly, there is no guarantee of when that will be.

Given the controversy over AirTag stalking, it's possible but unlikely that Apple will wait to announce this feature alongside the expected second generation of the AirTags. Most recent predictions say AirTags 2 will launch in 2025.