Apple is distributing an AirTags software update that will make it harder for people to use them for covert tracking, CNET reports. According to a statement sent to The edge, Apple is also working on an app for Android users that will help them detect potentially unwanted trackers.
AirTags was released earlier this year as Apple’s solution to help people keep track of everyday objects. In its marketing, Apple shows people finding their lost keys or bags that the trackers are attached to. However, there are concerns that the tiny devices are being used to secretly track people without their knowledge, and we’ve seen numerous reports since the release of the AirTags, indicating that some tweaks were needed to make the devices more privacy conscious for everyone.
If AirTags were not with their owner before the update, they would beep after three days when they noticed they were moving. If you had a fully up-to-date iPhone, you might get a “AirTag moves with you” notification before that time — but non-updated iPhone users and Android users were unlucky until that bell. Apple is now updating the AirTags to sound separation at some point between eight and 24 hours, significantly reducing how long an AirTag can travel before telling itself. (Apple has not responded to the request for comment about the number of times it has provided.)
Apple says the Android app will launch “later this year” and will be able to detect AirTags as well as other Find My network accessories, such as the Chipolo tracker.
Eight to 24 hours is still a long time to track without knowing it, but it’s good to see Apple starting to at least ease some of people’s concerns. The update is out today and should happen automatically when an AirTag gets near an iPhone, similar to how AirPods quietly receive updates, according to CNET.