Rogue AirTag trackers can be more easily found after firmware update

Rogue AirTag trackers can be more easily found after firmware update
Apple recently disseminated two firmware updates for the AirTag item tracker. Unfortunately, Apple didn't post a changelist after either update leaving AirTag users in the dark about any new capabilities for the device. But Apple has just released a support page (via 9to5Mac) titled "What’s new in firmware updates for AirTag?" that goes on to answer the question.

The first listing, AirTag firmware update 2.0.36, "resolves an issue with the accelerometer not activating in certain scenarios." Considering that the accelerometer is used to track movement of the AirTag, it obviously is important to have this sensor working so that the product can do its job. This update was released on December 12th.

Apple released firmware updates for the AirTag in November and December

A little more than a month earlier, on November 10th, Apple released firmware update 2.0.24 which sends you a notification to let you know that an unknown AirTag is traveling along with you. A sound alert lets you know that this rogue AirTag has been moved. With the use of Precision Finding, you can more easily pinpoint the location of the unknown tracker. So let's say that someone has hidden an AirTag in your car or in your suitcase or somewhere else in order to keep track of your movements. With the update, you'll be alerted to the presence of an unknown AirTag following you around, quickly find it and disable it.

A sound alert from the Find My app on your iPhone will tell you that the unknown AirTag is moving with you. Precision Finding uses the U1 Ultra-Wideband chip to deliver the location of a rogue AirTag with more precision. This chip is found on the iPhone 11, iPhone 12, iPhone 13, and iPhone 14 series. Earlier iPhone models rely on Bluetooth connectivity which does not deliver such precise location data.

AirTag stalking has become a real problem and Apple is hoping that by allowing the Precision Finding feature to help victims more easily find and disable rogue AirTags, stalkers can have their connection cut off before committing any physical harm. This feature requires your iPhone to be on and running iOS 16.2 or later.

Mother and daughter are stalked by an AirTag in Disney World

As an example of how AirTag trackers are being used in malicious ways, earlier this year a mother and daughter were leaving Disney World when the park closed for the night. In a near empty parking lot, the daughter received a notification on her iPhone that said, "AirTag Found Moving With You." With the new features, an audio alert from the Find My app would sound and using Precision Finding, the guilty AirTag could be found and dealt with.

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But this harrowing incident took place before the firmware updates were disseminated. So without the ability to use Precision Finder, they shook out their clothing, got into their car, called the cops, and drove back to the hotel where they were staying. But even with the car parked in the hotel parking lot, the AirTag was still tracking them. So they dumped everything out of the shopping bags that they were carrying out of the theme park and sure enough, the rogue AirTag fell out of the bag.

Earlier this month, we told you that Apple was being sued by two women who were stalked by AirTag item trackers. In one case, the woman's ex-boyfriend attached an AirTag inside the wheel well of her car and discovered where she was hiding to escape his abuse. The second woman involved in the suit was tracked by an AirTag placed in her child's backpack by her husband. The suit accuses Apple of releasing a "dangerous product."

The suit also states that existing technology in place to help those being stalked by an AirTag is "woefully inadequate" and "do little, if anything, to swiftly warn consumers if they are being monitored." The firmware updates released by Apple for its item tracker could be Apple's response to that accusation.

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