Apple AirTag has been built from the ground up to help find lost objects while respecting user privacy and ensuring safety at the same time. There are many anti-stalker protections designed as part of AirTag, and not as an afterthought. And yes, they can be used to track pets, despite the company not marketing it as such, as per Kaiann Drance, Apple’s VP of worldwide iPhone product marketing and Ron Huang, Apple’s senior director of sensing and connectivity.
AirTag can be used to track pets too
Both Drance and Huang had an interview with Fast Company in which they spoke about the product and the thought process behind its features. Regarding privacy, Kaiann Drance said that AirTag is designed for the privacy of its owners and even nonowners, and the same features are open to third-party products that use the Find My app and Find My Network.
“When it came to designing our own product, we thought carefully about how to get this right in a way that no one else in the industry’s ever done before. You’ll see that we designed for the privacy of AirTag owners and nonowners, as well as making these benefits opened up to third-party products as well.”
The crowdsourced network of a billion Apple devices that AirTag relies on is entirely anonymous and encrypted, which means that the Bluetooth identifiers that are being shared cannot be read by any person or even Apple. This Find My Network even allows location tracking to work offline, without the Internet. Bluetooth identifiers are also randomized and rotated many times a day, so that that the AirTag cannot be identified.
Apple has also made sure that if you lose an AirTag, nobody else can just steal it and start using it. Pairing lock means that it will only work with a single Apple ID. As per Huang:
“It means that if you lose your AirTag, somebody can’t just pick up your AirTag, re-pair it with their phone, and continue using it. This has been really impactful for the iPhone and we think it will be for AirTag as well.”
Anti-stalking protections are also in place so that nobody can slip an AirTag in someone else’s bag and track their location. If that person has an iPhone, the AirTag will alert them that it is moving with them without the owner close by. If the user does not have an iPhone but an Android phone, the AirTag will alert them via a sound if it is out of the range of its paired iPhone for 3 days. This might not be ideal for Android users, and Apple is open to increasing or decreasing the duration of this time through a software update in the future.
Drance says that if there is an instance where you are being tracked, you can contact law enforcement and Apple could provide the owners’ details by identifying them via the serial number of the AirTag that is paired to their Apple ID, through due process.
“If you are concerned that there’s a risk of your being tracked you could contact law enforcement. What the [AirTag’s] serial number is used for is when you first set up your AirTag it is paired with an Apple ID along with some additional information such as your name, your email address, your date of birth, and things like that, which [Apple] could provide to law enforcement if asked for, with the proper warrants and process.”
When asked if AirTag can be used to track children or pets, Drance recommended that an Apple Watch with Family Setup is more suitable to track your kids. AirTags can be used, but they will need to be in the vicinity of a device that supports Apple’s Find My Network.