When Apple introduced AirTags, privacy advocates immediately voiced concern that the trackers could be used for stalking. That concern turned out to be completely, totally valid. After dozens of reports of AirTag stalking, Apple now says it will try to fight the problem with future iOS updates, giving you a new reason to keep your iPhone up to date.
AirTags already have some anti-stalking guardrails. The small trackers beep if they’re away from their owner for too long, and your iPhone will warn you if a lost AirTag appears to be “following” you around.
But these preventatives aren’t as effective as they could be—and Apple agrees. The company acknowledges that strangers’ AirTags should be easier to find, that anti-stalker warnings should occur faster (they take at least eight hours), and that such warnings should be more specific.
The March iOS 15.4 update will introduce several of these improvements. Notably, all lost AirTags and AirPods will now identify themselves by name, as opposed to using a generic “this unknown accessory is following you” warning. (The AirTag setup screen will also display new legal warnings, though I doubt that these warnings will discourage stalkers.)
Apple will roll out additional anti-stalking guardrails later this year, including a Precision Finding feature that makes it easier to locate unknown AirTags, louder AirTag sounds, and the option to hear an audio warning from your iPhone if a lost AirTag is following you. That last feature is pretty important, as stalkers can remove the speaker from their AirTags.
To be clear, I’m not praising Apple for providing these updates. The company launched AirTags knowing that they could be used for stalking—that’s why it introduced the products with rudimentary anti-stalking features. Plus, Apple still hasn’t provided an easy way for Android users to see if they’re being tracked by AirTags. Yeah, there’s a crappy app, but Android users are more vulnerable to illegal AirTag tracking than iPhone owners.