Apple announces AirTag privacy improvements, Android app coming this year

Apple has announced a handful of changes designed to improve the privacy of AirTag item trackers. The company is adjusting the time it takes for AirTags to sound an alert after being separated from their owner, and Apple plans to release an Android app for detecting AirTags later this year.

As first reported by CNET, Apple is rolling out this AirTag firmware update starting today. AirTags will update will automatically when in range of a connected iPhone.

With this firmware update, an AirTag will now play a sound after it has been separated from its owner at a random time within an interval of 8 hours and 24 hours. At launch, AirTag played a sound after being separated from its owner for longer than 3 days.

The company is also developing an app for Android users that will alert them to an AirTag potentially moving with them. The app will also detect other Find My-enabled accessories.

To further reassure people about its AirTags, Apple said it’s developing an app for Android devices that will help people “detect” an AirTag or Find My network-enabled device that may also be unsuspectedly “traveling” with them. The app will be released later this year.

“The recent introduction of AirTag included industry first proactive features that discourage unwanted tracking,” Apple said in a statement. The moves, it added, represent a continued commitment to improve AirTag’s privacy and security.

It does not sound like this application will allow Android users to set up and use AirTag. Instead, the app will be used to alert Android users to when an AirTag could be moving with them. AirTag features an NFC chip inside that Android users can already use to identify an AirTag, but this app will allow Android users to receive proactive alerts to alert them to unwanted tracking.

The updates comes after some concerns were raised about the privacy and stalking implications of AirTag. Tests performed by The Washington Post found that AirTag stalking was “frighteningly easy,” despite privacy protections put in place by Apple. A review from Mashable also raised concerns about the privacy implications of the item tracker.

You can check your AirTag’s firmware version in the Find My app on your iPhone. Apple released its AirTag item tracker in April for $29 for a single unit or $99 for a four-pack.

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