My AirTag sense is tingling. You can laugh, but this might be possible in future iOS versions. We would all be safer.
MacRumors discovered Apple's Spidey sense in iOS 15.2 beta, which was released Tuesday. This scanning feature is an extension to the Find My app. It allows users to discover AirTags or other products that are connected to Apple's powerful Find My Network and may be stalking them in real time without their knowledge.
The new feature appears very simple at first glance. MacRumors has posted screenshots of the new feature. You open up the Find My app, then choose the "Items tab" from the bottom menu. This will bring up a list with all your AirTags as well as third-party Find My connected devices. You will see an option called "Items that can track me" at the bottom.
Clicking this option will bring up "Unknown Items," which scans any Find My-connected device that is belonging to another person nearby. MacRumors reports, if Apple detects any unwanted Find My devices that are engaged in stalking it will give the user instructions to disable it and stop it from tracking anymore.
We noted back in April when Apple introduced the AirTags. One of the most serious and frightening problems with them was their potential to be used by abusers. AirTags allow abusers to locate their victims in a very precise way. The Find My network connects to hundreds of millions of Apple devices around the world. It's also a cost-effective way to track them (one AirTag costs $29 and four are $99).
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This was a potential problem, so the company announced at launch that iPhone users who have unwanted AirTags near their belongings will receive an alert on their phones. The AirTag will sound a chime if it is left with unassisted users for longer than three days. However, this was not the case for iPhone users who didn't have the latest iOS version.
Meanwhile, Android users didn't even get notifications. The AirTag was stuck to them until they heard a chime after three days. If someone tracked you throughout the day with an AirTag, but it got near to its owner at night, you wouldn't know. It's creepy.
Apple attempted to address stalking concerns about AirTags in its June update. Apple scrapped the three-day deadline and stated that AirTags would emit sound when they are separated from their owners for eight to 24 hours. It also revealed that the company was developing an Android app that would alert Android users about unwanted tracking devices, similar to what iPhone users get. The Android app will launch in the second half of this year.
Although the new "Unknown Items” feature is not perfect. The user is responsible for scanning for unknown devices, even though Apple is the one who is responsible for notifying users that they are being followed without their consent. It would however be a positive step.
Let's all hope that this feature is released in beta and will be included in the next iOS update. And, let's also pray that Android users get similar protections as soon as possible.