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AirTags or AirTracks? Here’s how to stay safe from Apple's tiny trackers

AirTags or AirTracks? Here’s how to stay safe from Apple's tiny trackers

AirTags or AirTracks? Here’s how to stay safe from Apple's tiny trackers
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By CNBCTV18.com Feb 2, 2022 10:47:07 PM IST (Published)

The device can track items very precisely and direct a user to the exact location within seconds. However, for direct tracking of an item, the AirTag must be within the range of the item’s Bluetooth. For items farther away, AirTags uses the Find My network to report the location.

Just as easily as the features on Apple’s tiny tracking device, AirTag, help the user locate lost keys or bags, they can also be used to pry on someone and track people without their knowledge.

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There has been scepticism around the AirTag since it was launched in April 2021. At the time of its launch, Apple had promised giving iPhone users a convenient way of finding their belongings by simply attaching the Bluetooth device to the user’s purse or keys. To track the item, all one had to do was check the iPhone.


How do AirTags work?

AirTags use low-power Bluetooth to send out signals to detect nearby Apple devices. Although the device does not have built-in GPS, it can communicate with other iPhone devices like iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Mac devices in the Find My app network. AirTags have a built-in speaker, which raises an alarm when the device is separated from its owner. The user can also trigger the ring on the device through the Find My app.

The device can track items very precisely and direct a user to the exact location within seconds. However, for direct tracking of an item, the AirTag must be within the range of the item’s Bluetooth. For items farther away, AirTags uses the Find My network to report the location.

What is the problem?

Many people have taken to social media claiming that the device is increasingly being used for nefarious activities.

The police department of West Seneca, New York State, in December received two reports complaining that AirTag trackers were allegedly placed on unsuspecting owner’s vehicles, The Wall Street Journal reported. Similar reports came to the police in Iowa. A person from Pennsylvania also reported a suspicious notification from an AirTag in January of being followed home from a movie theatre.

 How to stay safe? 

Addressing concerns, the Cupertino-based tech giant came out with an AirTag safety guide last week that outlines some measures a user can take to stay safe. To discourage unwanted tracking, Apple devices send notifications if unknown AirTags are in their vicinity. In December, Apple introduced a Tracker Detect app for Android users also to sniff out nearby AirTags.

The Tracker Detect app also lets the user scan for nearby AirTags. However, once notified, the Android user will have to look for AirTags manually as the app does not automatically search and send notifications like in the iPhone.

Once a lost item with an AirTag attached is detected, the user can use the NFC technology in the Apple or Android device to return the item.

If the user holds the smartphone near the white side of the AirTag, it will send a notification to the phone about the AirTag. If the item is marked as lost, the user can easily view the contact information of the rightful owner. Apple suggests that the user disable the AirTag if it doesn’t appear as lost.

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