Numerous news reports in recent months have outlined cases where AirTags have been used by people to follow others and Apple says that it has already been able to use the associated Apple ID to help law enforcement identify the person involved.
Every AirTag has a unique serial number, and paired AirTags are associated with an Apple ID. Apple can provide the paired account details in response to a subpoena or valid request from law enforcement. We have successfully partnered with them on cases where information we provided has been used to trace an AirTag back to the perpetrator, who was then apprehended and charged.
Apple also says that it is making changes to AirTags to make them better in terms of alerting people when they are being misused. Part of that will see users given the ability to use precision finding, making it easier to locate an AirTag even when it has been hidden.
Precision Finding: This capability allows recipients of an unwanted tracking alert to locate an unknown AirTag with precision. iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13 users will be able to use Precision Finding to see the distance and direction to an unknown AirTag when it is in range. As an iPhone user moves, Precision Finding fuses input from the camera, ARKit, accelerometer, and gyroscope to guide them to the AirTag through a combination of sound, haptics, and visual feedback.
Other changes include the use of a visual alert on nearby iPhones that should help deal with AirTags that have had their speaker removed. Normally an AirTag would emit a sound when it’s potentially being misused but some have already begun to get around that by removing speakers.
Display alert with sound: When AirTag automatically emits a sound to alert anyone nearby of its presence and is detected moving with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, we will also display an alert on your device that you can then take action on, like playing a sound or using Precision Finding, if available. This will help in cases where the AirTag may be in a location where it is hard to hear, or if the AirTag speaker has been tampered with.
Apple says that these changes, and more, are coming in a future software update although it hasn’t said when that update will be pushed out to users.