Apple is distributing an AirTags software update that makes it harder for people to use them for surreptitious tracking, CNET reports. According to a statement sent to The Verge, Apple is also working on an app for Android users which will let them detect potentially unwanted trackers.
AirTags were released earlier this year as Apple’s solution for helping people keep track of everyday objects. In its marketing, Apple shows people finding their lost keys or bags that have the trackers attached. However, there have been concerns the tiny devices are being used to secretly track people without their knowledge, and we’ve seen numerous reports since the AirTags’ release indicating that some tweaks were needed to make the devices more privacy-conscious for everyone.
Before the update, if AirTags were away from their owner, they would chime after three days if they detected that they were moving. If you had a fully up-to-date iPhone, you might get an “AirTag Found Moving With You” notification before then — but un-updated iPhone users and Android users were out of luck until that chime. Apple is now updating the AirTags to chime at some point between eight and 24 hours of separation, significantly reducing how long an AirTag can travel before telling on itself. (Apple didn’t respond to request for comment on the range of times it provided.)
Apple says the Android app will be coming “later this year” and will be able to detect both AirTags and other Find My network accessories, such as the Chipolo tracker.
Eight to 24 hours is still a long time to be tracked without knowing, but it’s good to see that Apple is at least starting to address some of people’s concerns. The update is out today and should happen automatically when an AirTag comes into proximity with an iPhone similar to how AirPods silently receive updates, according to CNET.