Apple AirTag: Where Did it go Wrong?

    Back in April of 2021, Apple unveiled their latest product, a small disk product made to track items so you can easily keep track of them. Despite the brilliant concept, it quickly went wrong, and there was a large amount of backlash. Although its initial concept seemed very tame, just an item to be put on anything so that people wouldn’t ever lose it again, it quickly fell into the wrong hands, leaving many nervous and some in danger.


    What is the AirTag? The AirTag was up for pre-order on April 23, 2021, and was able to be purchased on April 30, 2021. Its purpose was to be an everyday household item that could help track down people’s missing objects or even pets. It was priced at $30 for one and $99 for a pack of four AirTags, which is relatively cheap for Apple. In addition, Apple provides free engravings on the AirTag to help people customize the AirTag and make it theirs. Because of this, the AirTag, when first revealed, was welcomed with a positive reception. The slogan for the AirTag was “Lose your knack for losing things,” which was promising as many fail to keep important items where they can easily find them, meaning that it could help people find their lost items. In addition to this, the Apple AirTag has prevented thefts. By putting an AirTag on valuable items, people were easily able to track and find their items if they were to be possibly stolen, and they could report them to the police while keeping them regularly updated on their position. With this, many were excited for its release, seeing as this might be a lifesaver for most.


    However, with such capabilities, the Apple AirTag was quickly used for things that weren’t its intended purpose. Thieves and criminals quickly began taking advantage of the Apple AirTag. These people began using it to track and steal items. Despite preventing some thefts, the AirTag caused a lot more serious thefts. For example, criminals and thieves would stick the AirTag on the bottom of many different cars to easily track and steal these vehicles. It quickly became a problem, and many people took to social media to complain about such issues. Despite this, other trackers have also been used to do things like this, like Tile, but Apple was the one that brought it to light. This was because every person who had an Apple iPhone got a notification saying, “AirTag Found Moving With You – The owner can see the location of this AirTag.” This quickly created problems, as it could also be easily used to track people as a whole. Some people hid the AirTag in the car’s hood or underneath with duct tape. The main people targeted were young women. Because of this, many people were very concerned for other people’s safety. One Twitter user states, “As human trafficking continues to rise as a large problem in the United States, the Apple AirTag has only made it worse.” On TikTok, one user by the name of “Ashley Estrada” posted a video in which she and her friends find a rogue AirTag, duct-taped to the bottom of her car. Soon after she posted it, many others were quick to share their own experiences in the comments, showing that this was becoming an extremely large problem that Apple should pay attention to. In addition to this, some users found that local police were, in fact, useless in helping with the problem. One ignorant police officer stated this after someone complained about being tracked, “It’s probably a prank. Go to Apple to turn it off.” However, before Apple’s update on February 10, 2022, it was almost impossible to do this, as the current system rarely worked.


    After several months of receiving complaints, Apple finally released an update to their AirTag on February 10, 2022. Their update showed how to prevent unwanted tracking, despite many people requesting that they take AirTags off the market and disable all existing ones. The article from the Apple website states that they have begun working with law enforcement and have created advancements in the Find My app provided by Apple. Despite this,  Precise Tracking can only be used on iPhones 11 and higher. By working with law enforcement, Apple can make it clear to them that this is a problem and should not be taken lightly. By creating a valid request from law enforcement, Apple can provide detailed information on the AirTag just by giving the serial number, which is now easily able to be found on the back of the AirTag after popping it open. In addition to this, various new features have been added or are planned to be added. These include new privacy warnings, precision finding, display alerts with sound, refining unwanted alert logic, and tuning the AirTag’s “Play Sound” option so people can easily hear and locate the AirTag.


    With the release of the Apple AirTag back in April of 2021, it was supposed to be used to track things and make it so that everyday objects, especially important ones, don’t get lost. The idea caught on quickly with many people, but after its official release onto the market, people realized this didn’t fix as many problems as it caused, considering that each one of the problems was far greater than simply losing one’s keys.