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Reviewer finds Apple AirTags can be used to stalk people

You can track your keys, your backpack and apparently your roommate. Or another human. Mashable tech reporter finds a fault with new Apple AirTags tracker.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — If you lose things, and who doesn't? Then the new Apple AirTags were likely a welcome invention. Can't find your keys? Track it. Misplace your backpack? Track it. But the folks at Mashable tracked a problem with the new device...potential stalkers.

“They connect to your iPhone, and then you can connect it to anything, whether it's your keys, your bike, your bag, anything that you just don't want to lose and that's super important to you,” says Mashable Tech Reporter Brenda Stolyar.

The AirTags design is simple and in the world of Apple fairly inexpensive; $29 for one or $99 for four. In blue tooth range it can make a noise so you can locate it, and if you leave something behind farther away, well you can find that too.

“You connect it to the Find My app, and on the Find My app you have full view of it, on a map, and its exact location,” says Stolyar.

Brenda Stolyar is a tech reporter. She is also a woman. So, the tracking thing, well, it set off her radar.

“My concern, in a nutshell, is can these be used to stalk people?" she asks.

Stolyar tested it out on her roommates in New York City. With their permission of course.

“I was able to track my roommates across Manhattan. I was in Brooklyn at one point, and I pulled up the Find My app, and it gave me their exact location,” she says.

Out of blue tooth range the device leverages the "Find My" app that's built into all iPhones. So, if the AirTag is near any iPhone, you can find it.
Apple told her they have a fix for that.

“Their answer to that is that if you download iOS 14.5, and somebody drops an air tag into your bag, it will immediately prompt a notification on the person that you're stalking's iPhone,” says Stolyar.

“The problem with that, when we tried it, is that it took about two hours for her to receive the notification,” she says.

If your phone isn't updated, or say you're an Android user, there's no notification. 

In three days, the AirTag will start to beep, but three days is a long time. And if the person stalking you comes within blue tooth range during those three days, the timer starts over. So, android users aside, Brenda's advice is this.

“Make sure that your iPhone and all other apple devices are updated to the latest version of iOS constantly,” she suggests.

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