Apple updated the AirTag, a small device that helps people track their belongings, using Apple's Find My network to locate lost items such as keys, wallets,s or bags. The AirTags update came to address privacy concerns associated with Bluetooth trackers. With the change, Apple is shortening the period in which an AirTag can be separated from its owner without making noise.
An Apple spokesperson said, continuing our commitment to continue improving AirTag privacy and security, we will update the period of time after which an AirTag separated from its owner will play audio when it is transferred. This time period changes from three days to a random time between 8 and 24 hours.
This may seem like a minor change but it's meant to address concerns that Apple hasn't done enough to prevent AirTags from being infamously used. The Washington Post reported that the previous three-day window made it frighteningly easy for a potential stalker to track down the victim for several days before they received any kind of warning that the AirTag had been surreptitiously placed in their belongings.
To further allay privacy concerns, Apple is also planning an Android app that helps users detect an AirTag or Find My accessory connected to a network that is separate from its owner who may be traveling with a user. Most importantly, the app does not appear to be intended to give Android users the full functionality of AirTags, but it will give non-iPhone owners a way to search for unwanted trackers.
On the one hand, this still puts the burden on a potential stalking victim to proactively download a new app and search for AirTag, which seems unrealistic. On the other hand, it shows that Apple is responsive to privacy concerns, and is open to enhancing existing device features to combat stalking.