Apple is updating its AirTags smart trackers with more features to prevent abuse by users who want to track others without their knowledge or permission.
Apple currently automatically alerts iPhone users when it detects an AirTag or Find My Network accessory is detected moving with them that is not linked to their Apple ID.
The company also offers an app on the Play Store called Tracker Detect, allowing Android users to scan for AirTags near them manually.
But several reports in recent months have raised concerns about whether the AirTags anti-stalking features were sufficient.
Apple has now responded with several changes for users within its ecosystem.
The first big update allows recipients of an unwanted tracking alert to locate an AirTag with Precision Finding.
“iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13 users will be able to use Precision Finding to see the distance and direction to an unknown AirTag when it is in range,” Apple said.
“As an iPhone user moves, Precision Finding fuses input from the camera, ARKit, accelerometer, and gyroscope to guide them to the AirTag through a combination of sound, haptics, and visual feedback.”
The screenshot below shows how Precision Finding works.
Apple also said it would refine its unwanted tracking alert system to notify users earlier than previously that an unknown AirTag or Find My network accessory might be travelling with them.
In addition, the company is adding a new privacy warning for every user setting up their AirTag for the first time that will clearly state that using an AirTag to track people without consent was a crime.
Apple added it has worked with law enforcement on all AirTag-related cases.
“Based on our knowledge and on discussions with law enforcement, incidents of AirTag misuse are rare; however, each instance is one too many.”
The company warned that every AirTag had a unique serial number paired to an Apple ID. These can be provided to law enforcement in response to a subpoena.
“We have successfully partnered with them on cases where the information we provided has been used to trace an AirTag back to the perpetrator, who was then apprehended and charged,” Apple said.