How to Tell If You’re Being Tracked by Apple’s AirTags

How to Tell If You’re Being Tracked by Apple’s AirTags
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AirTags aren’t a thing yet — at least, not when we wrote this — but the oft-rumoured tracking devices, about the size of a coin, should debut soon. And when they do, Apple is already building security features into iOS 14.5 to prevent people from secretly tracking you by attaching a tiny tracker to your stuff (or dropping it in a bag, or however else some Mission Impossible wannabe might go about their spy games).

Within the iOS 14.5 developer beta is a new option, enabled by default, called “Item Safety Alerts.” You’ll find the setting in the “Me” section of the Find My app. And while you can turn it off, I wouldn’t recommended doing so for the rather obvious reasons Apple describes in its pop-up warning:

Screenshot: David Murphy Screenshot: David Murphy

Though we’re just speculating at this point, I would assume that Apple’s integration would also allow it to alert you if a non-Apple tracker is moving around alongside your device’s general location. Apple announced back in 2020 that it was planning to open up “Find My” to third-party devices, like all the various Bluetooth trackers you can buy nowadays to keep your things safe. Ideally, this anti-stalking measure would work on any physical tracking device one’s iPhone could recognise.

Once the feature goes live — and AirTags make their official debut — you’ll be able to add and find trackable devices via the “Items” tab in Find My. Feel free to tap on that tab now, if you’re in the beta, to get a peek at what the starting screen might look like.

Screenshot: David Murphy Screenshot: David Murphy

However, with nothing to add, there’s little you can do at the moment.

Screenshot: David Murphy Screenshot: David Murphy

Apple’s next big product keynote is rumoured to take place on March 23, where we’ll allegedly see the debut of AirTags, as well as a potential new iPad Pro, Apple TV, and AirPods.

There’s no word yet on how much the ultra-wideband trackers might cost, but I suspect you’ll be paying a pretty penny — the Apple Tax, in other words — for the functionality they offer. That said, if they are based on a combination of Bluetooth and ultra-wideband connectivity, you’ll get much more accurate results for their location than mere Bluetooth: centimeters versus meters, basically. Combine that with a rumoured augmented reality interface in Find My that you’ll be able to use to pinpoint a lost device’s location, and that certainly sounds like a pretty great way to keep tabs on your stuff…or maybe just your expensive stuff. Here’s hoping they have a replaceable battery, at least, for their price.

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