Airtag stalking has become such a concern that Apple and Google are coming together to combat this malicious use of the device.
Initially designed to help people keep track of their valuables, stalkers quickly turned to the device to keep up with their victims. In January 2022, Ohio resident Heidi Moon was tracked to a hotel and killed by her possessive ex-boyfriend. Months later, in June, Gaylyn Morris allegedly used an Airtag to follow and kill her boyfriend in Indiana. In December of that year, Texas resident Lauren Hughes accused Apple of creating a product that allowed her stalker ex-boyfriend to follow her movements easily. With instances such as these mounting and pending lawsuits, Apple and Google will soon alert any device with a Bluetooth connection when an Airtag is near. Before this change, only iPhones would be warned.
This is the latest security implementation as the tech giant struggles to get a handle on Airtags being used for unwanted lurking. Previous measures include warning Apple users when Airtag’s has been out of range for over eight hours and making the tag beep after a certain point, helping people quickly locate it. What makes these devices so appealing to criminals is their size and cost. Just bigger than a quarter, these trackers cost just $29, though Amazon has a four-pack advertised for $89.99. They are easily applied to vehicles or slipped inside bags, giving people unlimited access to the whereabouts of others undetected.
Apple submitted its proposal for these updates Tuesday. The new safety feature is expected to roll out by the end of 2023 to all future versions of iOS and Android.