Apple just dealt another blow to AirTag stalkers — here's what's new

Apple AirTag
(Image credit: Future)

Update: A woman reportedly used an AirTag to track and murder her boyfriend.

The Apple AirTag has been given another update to make it safer. As found in documentation for the latest AirTag firmware by MacRumors, Apple's introduced a much-needed improvement to its sound alert function to allow you to find unknown and unwanted AirTags more easily.

As the support document says, the firmware has "[tuned] the unwanted tracking sound to more easily locate an unknown AirTag." It also specifies you need iOS 14.5 or later to make use of the feature, the minimum iOS version required to use AirTags at all.

This change is one of several promised for the AirTag by Apple earlier this year and with unfortunately good reason. The AirTag has been involved in all too many stalking and harassment cases since it launched, and while Apple continues to put work into preventing the trackers from being used for intrusive and illegal purposes, the product still remains all too easy to abuse. In fact, TG's own Mark Spoonauer argued that Apple should halt AirTag sales until it enacts all these changes and ensures Android users aren't left vulnerable.

As explained in Apple's roadmap from February, users who get an alert for an unknown AirTag nearby can order the tag to play a sound to make it easier to find. Apple's adjustment means the AirTag will now play more of its loudest sounds when in this mode, hopefully making hunting down the tracking tag much quicker.

If you have an AirTag, you can double-check if it's fully updated by going into the Find My app, selecting the AirTag from your Items list, and seeing if it's running firmware version 1.0.301. If it isn't, leave the AirTag within Bluetooth range of your iPhone (about 33 feet/10 meters according to Apple) and the update should happen automatically.

Bear in mind that you may not have the update ready yet, as Apple has said the new firmware is rolling out gradually over the next couple of weeks, with all devices slated to receive it by May 13. If you're concerned in the meantime, here's how to tell if an AirTag is stalking you and what you can do about it right now.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.