“Are You Being Tracked by an AirTag? Here’s How to Check”
WIRED, April 15, 2023
By Reece Rogers
“If you’re worried that one of Apple’s trackers is following you without consent, try these tips.”
When the AirTag launched in 2021, Apple’s Bluetooth tracker with ultra-wideband was lauded as a step toward the future of augmented reality and a great way to find everyday objects, like your lost TV remote. Cybersecurity experts expressed concern that the tracking device would be exploited by stalkers.
The warnings were prescient; multiple women reported frightening encounters where AirTags were used as stalking devices that could be slipped in a purse or taped to a car. Police departments across the United States issued warnings about the potential criminal uses of AirTags. Newer AirPods have tracking abilities similar to AirTags, but the higher cost of Apple’s earbuds limits their disposability as a tracking device.
Apple released firmware updates late in 2022 in an effort to curb misuse. Even though Tile and other competitors to the AirTag exist, the vastness of Apple’s ecosystem sets the device apart. From the US Drug Enforcement Administration using it to track international drug shipments to a man in Texas using it to find his stolen car and kill the suspect, AirTags are everywhere.
If you are concerned that a secret AirTag may be recording your location, these signs may help detect the tracker.
Signs an AirTag Is Tracking You
The type of smartphone you own affects how easily you can discover hidden AirTags. Owners of iPhones running iOS 14.5 or newer should receive a push alert whenever an unknown AirTag is nearby for an extended period of time and away from its owner. Apple’s website does not provide an exact time frame for when this alert is triggered.
About the Author:
Reece Rogers is WIRED’s service writer, focused on explaining crucial topics and helping readers get the most out of their technology. Prior to WIRED, he covered streaming at Insider.
- “Are Apple AirTags Being Used to Track People and Steal Cars? Privacy groups sounded alarms about the coin-sized location-tracking devices when they were introduced. Now people are concerned those fears are being realized.” The New York Times, December 30, 2021.