AirTags and SmartTags: Apple is doing a better job to prevent unwanted tracking

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AirTags and SmartTags: Apple is doing a better job to prevent unwanted tracking
So, Apple’s AirTags were just announced — after about a year of leaks and speculations. The Tile-like tiny tracker will help users keep track of their valuables — keys, wallets, bags, and hey — even bikes.

Samsung also has tracking tags of its own — the Samsung Galaxy SmartTags were launched earlier this year and serve the same purpose as the AirTags. Here’s a hands-on with a full explanation on how they work, if you missed it.

Something that didn’t even cross my mind while I was reviewing the SmartTags — these things have the potential to be dangerous. They are small and they are pretty accurate at relaying location information — one can easily slip a tag in an unknowing person’s luggage and… you know — track them.

With Apple’s launch of the AirTags, the company made it clear that it has a few systems in place that are meant to actively discourage such invasion of privacy. Samsung also recently announced that a SmartThings Find update will be tackling this issue.

Apple AirTag

$29
Buy at Apple

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag

$29 99
Buy at Samsung

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag+

$39 99
Buy at Samsung

But here’s the thing:

Apple’s solution wins in anti-stalking, loses in anti-theft



Here is how an Apple AirTag will let you know if you are being tracked:

  • Your iPhone will get a notification if it detects an owner-less AirTag that has been traveling with you for a prolonged period
  • If you don’t have an iPhone, an owner-less AirTag will begin playing sounds when being moved after a certain time has passed
  • If you find an unknown AirTag, you can tap it with an NFC phone and you will get instructions on how to disable it

So, essentially, you don't even need to have an iPhone or know too much about these AirTags things. The little button will try to draw your attention to it after it realises it's been away from its owner for an uncomfortable amount of time.

Downsides


This isn’t doing much for anti-theft. It seems that if someone lifts your AirTagged valuables, they will sooner or later be notified of the tracker’s presence and they will even get instructions on how to disable it. Unless we are missing something?

Samsung’s SmartTags are solid for anti-theft, but enable creepers


Samsung recently announced that it will add a new feature to SmartThings Find that will allow the user to scan for unknown SmartTags that are traveling with them.


This isn’t really doing much for anti-stalking. You need to have a Samsung phone specifically, you need to be acquainted with the SmartThings Find app, and you need to actively scan yourself every once in a while. What a world we live in, huh?

But, at the very least, once you have a Galaxy SmartTag registered to your account, it is yours forever and nobody can control it. So, theoretically, it’s more dependable for anti-theft applications?

At least that’s how it sounds right now.

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