Apple brings back 'AirTags' anti-stalking feature in latest iOS 14.5 beta

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 4
Previously seen in an iOS beta in November 2020, "Item Safety Features" are an anti-stalking protection for "AirTags" which has returned in the latest iOS 14.5 for developers.

Credit: Jon Prosser/cconceptcreator
Credit: Jon Prosser/cconceptcreator


The ability to track any item using the forthcoming "AirTags" obviously brings with it the issue of being unknowingly tracked oneself. Apple previously addressed this in the beta for iOS 14.3 in late 2020, where it was found to include privacy features that were expressly designed to prevent it.

However, just as "AirTags" then failed to be launched, so some of the related code in iOS 14 was removed prior to the public launch. That included the apparent ability for Apple to alert user with an "unknown accessory detected" prompt.

It appears that this notification would be triggered if a user was carrying an "AirTag" that did not belong to them. As that could mean it was planted, the notification read "This item has been moving with you for a while."

"The owner can see its location," it continued. "If you feel your safety is at risk due to this item, contact your local law enforcement. You may need the serial number of this item."

The newly-renamed
The newly-renamed "AirTags" privacy feature (source: Benjamin Mayo)


Now, as spotted by Benjamin Mayo, the feature is back and more prominently displayed in the latest iOS 14.5 beta. Apple has a new setting for what it calls Item Safety Features, which detects unauthorized "AirTags" -- or potentially other devices.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 61
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,517member
    This is going to be a real PAIN. Suppose I get on a train for a couple of hours and ten people are in the train with their own AirTags. Am I going to get notifications from that? How would iOS know when I'm being tracked and when I'm not? Is it just based on time? What's the time minimum that triggers the warning? An hour? A day? A week?
    viclauyyc
  • Reply 2 of 61
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,756member
    So you buy your AirTags, go to activate them in Find My… and you/your house lights up like a Christmas tree.
    Time to review your social media comments.
  • Reply 3 of 61
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,749member
    This is going to be a real PAIN. Suppose I get on a train for a couple of hours and ten people are in the train with their own AirTags. Am I going to get notifications from that? How would iOS know when I'm being tracked and when I'm not? Is it just based on time? What's the time minimum that triggers the warning? An hour? A day? A week?
    An iPhone can already detect when you're driving, it'll probably disable the alert during high speed travel.
    pulseimageslolliverfastasleep
  • Reply 4 of 61
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,517member
    crowley said:
    This is going to be a real PAIN. Suppose I get on a train for a couple of hours and ten people are in the train with their own AirTags. Am I going to get notifications from that? How would iOS know when I'm being tracked and when I'm not? Is it just based on time? What's the time minimum that triggers the warning? An hour? A day? A week?
    An iPhone can already detect when you're driving, it'll probably disable the alert during high speed travel.
    Oh that's great, that means as a stalker I can just attach my tracker to the target's car and it won't trigger the warning since it constitutes "high speed travel." As soon as the target leaves the car, it won't trigger the warning since the target has left the car and the tracker.
  • Reply 5 of 61
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,754member
    This is going to be a real PAIN. Suppose I get on a train for a couple of hours and ten people are in the train with their own AirTags. Am I going to get notifications from that? How would iOS know when I'm being tracked and when I'm not? Is it just based on time? What's the time minimum that triggers the warning? An hour? A
    Do you really think Apple didn't consider that use case? I would wait and see.
    lolliverviclauyycfastasleepStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 61
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,517member
    mike1 said:
    This is going to be a real PAIN. Suppose I get on a train for a couple of hours and ten people are in the train with their own AirTags. Am I going to get notifications from that? How would iOS know when I'm being tracked and when I'm not? Is it just based on time? What's the time minimum that triggers the warning? An hour? A
    Do you really think Apple didn't consider that use case? I would wait and see.
    Fair enough, we can't know how it will work until we see it. But I can't figure out how to make it work safely and without a bunch of false alarms.
  • Reply 7 of 61
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,749member
    crowley said:
    This is going to be a real PAIN. Suppose I get on a train for a couple of hours and ten people are in the train with their own AirTags. Am I going to get notifications from that? How would iOS know when I'm being tracked and when I'm not? Is it just based on time? What's the time minimum that triggers the warning? An hour? A day? A week?
    An iPhone can already detect when you're driving, it'll probably disable the alert during high speed travel.
    Oh that's great, that means as a stalker I can just attach my tracker to the target's car and it won't trigger the warning since it constitutes "high speed travel." As soon as the target leaves the car, it won't trigger the warning since the target has left the car and the tracker.
    Ok, then maybe it'll include a repeated encounter monitor, so even for high speed travel then it'll note the serials of trackers, and if sees them more than once in a close time period raise a similar alert.

    Funny how you instantly pivoted from being worried about it being inconvenient to you, to worried about workarounds "as a stalker".  Almost like you don't really care about either issue, just want a bit of attention.
    MacProJapheylolliverfastasleepmike1watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 61
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,174member
    mike1 said:
    This is going to be a real PAIN. Suppose I get on a train for a couple of hours and ten people are in the train with their own AirTags. Am I going to get notifications from that? How would iOS know when I'm being tracked and when I'm not? Is it just based on time? What's the time minimum that triggers the warning? An hour? A
    Do you really think Apple didn't consider that use case? I would wait and see.
    For it to effectively work without being used to stalk someone Airtags would need to be discoverable by non-Apple devices too. Requiring an iPhone in order to be notified covers far less than a third of the US population so chances are high you would not be aware of the stalker without a companion Android notification. Even then millions of Americans would lack any notice at all. 
    edited March 4 GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 9 of 61
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,517member
    crowley said:
    crowley said:
    This is going to be a real PAIN. Suppose I get on a train for a couple of hours and ten people are in the train with their own AirTags. Am I going to get notifications from that? How would iOS know when I'm being tracked and when I'm not? Is it just based on time? What's the time minimum that triggers the warning? An hour? A day? A week?
    An iPhone can already detect when you're driving, it'll probably disable the alert during high speed travel.
    Oh that's great, that means as a stalker I can just attach my tracker to the target's car and it won't trigger the warning since it constitutes "high speed travel." As soon as the target leaves the car, it won't trigger the warning since the target has left the car and the tracker.
    Ok, then maybe it'll include a repeated encounter monitor, so even for high speed travel then it'll note the serials of trackers, and if sees them more than once in a close time period raise a similar alert.

    Funny how you instantly pivoted from being worried about it being inconvenient to you, to worried about workarounds "as a stalker".  Almost like you don't really care about either issue, just want a bit of attention.
    Your technical idea is valid. Your personal insults are not. I guess you don't understand sarcasm when it comes to people you hate.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 61
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 398member


    The newly-renamed
    The newly-renamed "AirTags" privacy feature (source: Benjamin Mayo)

    Anybody else think this message is confusing as he11 - what am I disabling - the owner of the unknown item's ability to see my location or my notification of unknown items?

    CloudTalkinDogpersonmike1
  • Reply 11 of 61
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,517member
    tjwolf said:


    The newly-renamed
    The newly-renamed "AirTags" privacy feature (source: Benjamin Mayo)

    Anybody else think this message is confusing as he11 - what am I disabling - the owner of the unknown item's ability to see my location or my notification of unknown items?

    It certainly wouldn't be clear to my friends and family who come to me for support, but it makes sense to me. You are ENABLING the owner of an unknown item's ability to see your location. So it's the latter of your two options.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 61
    WgkruegerWgkrueger Posts: 329member
    tjwolf said:


    The newly-renamed
    The newly-renamed "AirTags" privacy feature (source: Benjamin Mayo)

    Anybody else think this message is confusing as he11 - what am I disabling - the owner of the unknown item's ability to see my location or my notification of unknown items?

    That was my reaction too. Bad wording. 
    mike1watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 61
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,749member
    Wgkrueger said:
    tjwolf said:


    The newly-renamed
    The newly-renamed "AirTags" privacy feature (source: Benjamin Mayo)

    Anybody else think this message is confusing as he11 - what am I disabling - the owner of the unknown item's ability to see my location or my notification of unknown items?
    That was my reaction too. Bad wording. 
    I think that's a warning message that you're disabling notification because you're setting a safety feature slider to off, so in the context of the Settings app it probably makes more sense.
    lolliver
  • Reply 14 of 61
    WgkruegerWgkrueger Posts: 329member
    This is going to be a real PAIN. Suppose I get on a train for a couple of hours and ten people are in the train with their own AirTags. Am I going to get notifications from that? How would iOS know when I'm being tracked and when I'm not? Is it just based on time? What's the time minimum that triggers the warning? An hour? A day? A week?
    If the AirTags are with the person they’re registered to you won’t see this notification. 
    lolliverfastasleep
  • Reply 15 of 61
    Now we just need the actual Air Tags! 
    lolliverllamawatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 61
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,517member
    Wgkrueger said:
    This is going to be a real PAIN. Suppose I get on a train for a couple of hours and ten people are in the train with their own AirTags. Am I going to get notifications from that? How would iOS know when I'm being tracked and when I'm not? Is it just based on time? What's the time minimum that triggers the warning? An hour? A day? A week?
    If the AirTags are with the person they’re registered to you won’t see this notification. 
    I didn't notice that point in the article. If true, that may indeed solve the problems I was talking about. I'll have to think about it. Thanks.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 61
    sirdirsirdir Posts: 133member
    This is going to be a real PAIN. Suppose I get on a train for a couple of hours and ten people are in the train with their own AirTags. Am I going to get notifications from that? How would iOS know when I'm being tracked and when I'm not? Is it just based on time? What's the time minimum that triggers the warning? An hour? A day? A week?
    If the owner is nearby the tag, I guess that would suppress that kind of message. 
    lolliverfastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 61
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,517member
    sirdir said:
    This is going to be a real PAIN. Suppose I get on a train for a couple of hours and ten people are in the train with their own AirTags. Am I going to get notifications from that? How would iOS know when I'm being tracked and when I'm not? Is it just based on time? What's the time minimum that triggers the warning? An hour? A day? A week?
    If the owner is nearby the tag, I guess that would suppress that kind of message. 
    As I said above, that might solve the problem. Except that some people turn off their phones, (which is what some people do on airplanes, to save energy when they can't call) and when that happens, the alarms will have to start triggering again. Or in another case, if the luggage is just out of range of the person who owns the phone, but you're within range of that same luggage. It depends how the range feature is implemented. There will be many scenarios like this which will create so many false alarms the feature will just be turned off by users.
  • Reply 19 of 61
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,749member
    sirdir said:
    This is going to be a real PAIN. Suppose I get on a train for a couple of hours and ten people are in the train with their own AirTags. Am I going to get notifications from that? How would iOS know when I'm being tracked and when I'm not? Is it just based on time? What's the time minimum that triggers the warning? An hour? A day? A week?
    If the owner is nearby the tag, I guess that would suppress that kind of message. 
    As I said above, that might solve the problem. Except that some people turn off their phones, (which is what some people do on airplanes, to save energy when they can't call) and when that happens, the alarms will have to start triggering again. Or in another case, if the luggage is just out of range of the person who owns the phone, but you're within range of that same luggage. It depends how the range feature is implemented. There will be many scenarios like this which will create so many false alarms the feature will just be turned off by users.
    Ok?  Most people don't have much of a concern with being stalked anyway.
  • Reply 20 of 61
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,174member
    crowley said:
    sirdir said:
    This is going to be a real PAIN. Suppose I get on a train for a couple of hours and ten people are in the train with their own AirTags. Am I going to get notifications from that? How would iOS know when I'm being tracked and when I'm not? Is it just based on time? What's the time minimum that triggers the warning? An hour? A day? A week?
    If the owner is nearby the tag, I guess that would suppress that kind of message. 
    As I said above, that might solve the problem. Except that some people turn off their phones, (which is what some people do on airplanes, to save energy when they can't call) and when that happens, the alarms will have to start triggering again. Or in another case, if the luggage is just out of range of the person who owns the phone, but you're within range of that same luggage. It depends how the range feature is implemented. There will be many scenarios like this which will create so many false alarms the feature will just be turned off by users.
    Ok?  Most people don't have much of a concern with being stalked anyway.
    it would only take one or two high-profile kidnapping or murder cases where an Airtag helped make it possible for it to suddenly become a major issue. I'd be certain Apple has realized that too and may be working with Google on Android compatibility.
    Alex1N
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