Apple addresses AirTag stalking in iOS 15.4 beta

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,491   +1,040
Staff member
In a nutshell: Apple appears to address several issues regarding stalking in the most recent iOS15.4 beta. It has changed the iCloud connect notification, shortened the alert time, and added precise tracking in case the speaker has been disabled. It will also notify users if someone else's AirPods follow them.

The latest beta build of iOS 15.4 just rolled out, and new features are starting to trickle in as testers dig into it. We already know its long-awaited, much-delayed Face ID with a mask is included. It's also getting Tap to Pay, an Apple Card widget, and a new "gender-neutral" Siri voice. Apple is also changing how AirTags interact with iPhones to address recent concerns about stalking.

As 9to5Mac notes, when setting up an AirTag, iOS 15.4 makes it abundantly clear with a popup notification that it is linked to the user's Apple ID and that AirTags are designed to warn victims. It notes that Apple will turn over identifying information to law enforcement if used illegally.

In addition to the new notice, developers have shortened the time it takes before users are notified an AirTags is with them. The timing was something that Apple said it would tweak after launch when the devices had been out in the wild for a bit. Of course, the timing of the alert cannot overcome an attacker disabling the speaker in the AirTag.

Disabling a speaker doesn't affect tracking, though. Users will still see notifications on-screen. The audible alert was more for finding the rogue tracker. To mitigate this, Apple added a feature to precisely locate a rogue AirTag when detected using ultrawideband tracking. Previously, this technique was only used to pinpoint a user's own fobs. It only works if someone else's Tag has been traveling with you, though.

Users have had the ability to track their own AirPods for a while now. Although there have not been any reports of AirPods being used to track someone, the potential is there since they work in the same way as AirTags. To tackle it before it becomes an issue, a semi-related feature in iOS 15.4 is rogue AirPod detection. While you cannot find someone else's AirPods, iOS 15.4 will alert you if it detects a set following you. So similar anti-stalking features appear to be trickling over to other easy-to-hide Apple devices.

Image credit: Ajay Suresh (CC BY 2.0)

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yRaz

Posts: 4,400   +5,124
Not for stalking purposes, I want to buy these and leave them at peoples houses or in their cars as a prank to my Apple Elitist friends. You want to annoy me with your own talk about Apple? I'll annoy you with apples own proprietary technology by leaving AirTags around and have notifications sent to your phone that someone might be following you.

And I've spent a lot more money to annoy people than the $30 cost of an air tag.
 

brucek

Posts: 1,124   +1,666
Good for the stalking case, but not so good if I want to locate my stolen car. Maybe there should be an option where you can make the tags harder to locate and disable in exchange for the location information only being available to law enforcement.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,491   +1,040
Staff member
Gender neutral siri voice? LMAO!
I know right? It's somewhat sad that this even has to be a thing in a society that is supposed to be enlightened. Siri is at the end of the day a machine--an it--not a he or a she.


So there was a way to find your lost Apple earbuds all this time? First I've heard of that.
There is indeed. I have used it a couple times to find mine. You can actually find any Apple device connected to your iCloud account.

Find My AirPods.jpeg
 

mctommy

Posts: 417   +143
Good for the stalking case, but not so good if I want to locate my stolen car. Maybe there should be an option where you can make the tags harder to locate and disable in exchange for the location information only being available to law enforcement.

Well, just hope that the thief doesn't have an iPhone that will alert he/she that there is an airtag in your car. Though you can just hide it really well and he/she won't be able to find it. In that instance, you are not stalking, you are tracking your stolen property.