Apple Executive Says AirTags Designed to Track Items, Not Children or Pets

Following the announcement of AirTags this week, Apple's VP of worldwide iPhone product marketing, Kaiann Drance, and Apple's senior director of sensing and connectivity, Ron Huang, spoke with Fast Company about the Tile-like tracker and its design and privacy.

f1618938547
Speaking about the design of AirTag, Drance says Apple wanted to create a simple yet unique design for the tracker, keeping in mind it wanted to create something that "no one else in the industry’s ever done before." One of the biggest selling points for AirTag is its user privacy. Apple is stressing that AirTag uses encrypted networks, and Apple or other third parties can't read their location.

Huang says that even if someone happens to find your lost AirTag, they will not be able to pair it with their ‌iPhone‌ and continue to use it. Both executives stressed during the interview that AirTag uses Apple's Find My network, which hosts almost a billion Apple devices, keeping the whole experience secure and private.

This entire process is end-to-end encrypted so that no one but the owner of the AirTag—not the owners of the crowdsourced devices picking up the AirTag’s location or even Apple itself—ever has access to the AirTag’s current or past location. And the Bluetooth identifiers that AirTags emit are not only randomized but “are rotated many times a day and never reused so that as you travel from place to place with the AirTag, you cannot be re-identified,” Huang says.

Drance and Huang are also keen to note that though almost a billion Apple devices act as a crowdsourced monitoring network that helps keep track of AirTags, the AirTag owner can never see which devices its AirTag’s location is pinging off of or who owns those devices.

Earlier in March, Apple introduced a new safety feature in its Find My app within the iOS 14.5 beta that will notify users if the ‌iPhone‌ detects an unknown tracking device, such as AirTag, being used to track them. The purpose of the feature is to prevent incidents in which someone may slip an AirTag into a user's backpack and use it to stalk them.

In the case that it does happen, users will receive a notification stating "AirTag Found Moving With You," and will then have the ability to disable it physically. Speaking about the safety feature, Drance says that users should contact local law enforcement if they feel their safety is at risk.

“If you are concerned that there’s a risk of your being tracked you could contact law enforcement,” Drance notes. “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.”

Apple is marketing AirTag as a smart and capable way to track items. Questions have arisen, however, if AirTag can be used to track children and pets. When asked, Apple's VP of ‌iPhone‌ product marketing says the company designed AirTag to track items, not children. The executive suggests parents use an Apple Watch with Family Setup to locate their children. In the case of tracking pets, Drance says they need to be in range.

When I asked Drance about parents using AirTags to track their small children (such as during an outing at an amusement park) or pets (we know you’re up to something shady, Fluffy) she was quick to stress that the company designed the AirTag to track items, not people or pets. If parents would like to safely track their young children, she suggests an Apple Watch with Family Setup might be a better choice.

As for strapping an AirTag to a pet, Drance says, “If people do that, they just have to make sure that their moving pet gets into range of a device in the Find My network” so its location can be tracked.

Both executives also spoke about ‌AirTags‌ to YouTuber Rene Ritchie. AirTag will be available to pre-order on Friday, April 23 for $29, or in a pack of four for $99. They'll begin shipping on April 30. Check out some first impressions and hands-on reviews of ‌AirTags‌.

Related Forum: AirTags

Top Rated Comments

Eddy Munn Avatar
23 weeks ago
So an Apple Watch would be more suitable for my cat? Great!
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
infinitejest Avatar
23 weeks ago
brb...buying an Apple Watch for my 5 year old daughter.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Costino1 Avatar
23 weeks ago

Not the tag that matters. It is the stolen item.
I really think youre missing the point. This is mostly for lost items, not stolen ones. How much more often do we lose an item vs an item being stolen?
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CalMin Avatar
23 weeks ago

Then not at all useful.
It’s to help you find something you lost. Not something that was stolen.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nholm Avatar
23 weeks ago

Thief steals item. Thief turns off tracker. Great idea.
Not intended usage.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
klunernet Avatar
23 weeks ago
It raises a question about use in a plane. with KLM I could chug it in my carry-on camera bag. (Cargo hold not allowed, you’re not allowed to put anything with a battery in there). Will a quarter or half the 777 then get a “a tag is traveling with you” message? :) Bluetooth 5.0 does have a range to make that funny or annoying.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

airtag in hand

Apple Enhancing AirTags Anti-Stalking Measures With Android App and Shorter Sound Intervals

Thursday June 3, 2021 11:10 am PDT by
Apple is enhancing AirTags security to prevent stalking using the Bluetooth devices, Apple told CNET today. Apple is already sending out over-the-air updates to AirTags that will shorten the amount of time before an unknown AirTag alerts you if it is in your possession. At the current time, AirTags play a sound after three days of being away from their owner. After the update, AirTags will...
Screen Shot

AirTags Separated From Owners for Three Days or More Play Audible Sound When Moved

Wednesday April 21, 2021 1:53 am PDT by
Apple's AirTag item trackers let you track things like your keys, wallet, purse, backpack, or luggage, and if an AirTag is separated from its owner and out of Bluetooth range, the Find My network can help track it down, thanks to its U1 Wideband chip. According to Apple, an AirTag that isn't with the person who registered it for an extended period of time will also play a sound when moved,...
airtag 1

AirTag Anti-Stalking Measures 'Just Aren't Sufficient' Says Washington Post Report

Wednesday May 5, 2021 6:03 pm PDT by
The safeguards that Apple built into AirTags to prevent them from being used to track someone "just aren't sufficient," The Washington Post's Geoffrey Fowler said today in a report investigating how AirTags can be used for covert stalking. Fowler planted an AirTag on himself and teamed up with a colleague to be pretend stalked, and he came to the conclusion that the AirTags are a "new means...
AirTags from 2019 spotlit

Packaging Reveals Apple Was Preparing to Ship AirTags as Early as 2019

Friday April 30, 2021 7:45 am PDT by
AirTags, until their official announcement earlier this month, had remained one of the most rumored Apple products of the last few years. Initial reports about an Apple item tracker began to surface in 2019, and in the entirety of the two years that followed, AirTags' release seemed to be constantly imminent. Last week, FCC filings revealed that Apple began seeking regulatory approval and...
AirTag in Envelope Feature 2

AirTag Used to Successfully Track a Mailed Package Across the UK

Wednesday May 12, 2021 8:44 am PDT by
An Apple customer in the United Kingdom has successfully used Apple's Find My network to track an AirTag as it was being sent by mail to a friend in a completely different city. Outlined in a blog post at Intego, Kirk McElhearn said he taped an AirTag to a piece of card, wrapped it inside a small bubble envelope, and then sent it on its way. Kirk lives in the small town of...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Apple's New AirTags

Friday April 30, 2021 2:41 pm PDT by
After years of waiting for the AirTags to debut, launch day is finally upon us and AirTags are now in the hands of customers. We got our AirTags in the mail today and thought we'd share a hands-on look for those who are still waiting for their orders or debating whether AirTags might be useful. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. As you probably know by now, AirTags...
airtag in hand

AirTags Arriving Early to Some Customers

Wednesday April 28, 2021 4:58 pm PDT by
AirTags aren't set to officially launch until Friday, April 30, but some customers have mistakenly received their AirTags shipments already, with many of the early AirTags coming from Best Buy. MacRumors reader Johnny sent us a series of photos of his AirTags that he already has in hand, giving us a look at the packaging and a real-life look at the AirTags themselves outside of reviews. ...
f1618938547

Apple Announces AirTag Tracking Devices Starting At $29 Each

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:10 am PDT by
Apple today announced AirTag, a Tile-like Bluetooth tracking device that's designed to be attached to items like keys and wallets for tracking purposes, letting you find them right in the Find My app. AirTags are accessories for attaching to backpacks, luggage, and other items. Any U1 device like the iPhone 12 can be used for precision finding to guide you right to the item you're looking...
f1618938547

AirTags and Purple iPhone 12 Models Now Available for Purchase

Friday April 23, 2021 5:00 am PDT by
Apple is now accepting orders for AirTags, the purple iPhone 12, and the purple iPhone 12 mini through its online storefront and the Apple Store app. AirTags are priced at $29 each, with a pack of four available at a discounted price of $99. AirTags are eligible for free engraving, with the space available allowing for up to four letters or three to four emoji characters depending on the...
airtags spigen leather case 1

Spigen AirTags Accessory Listed Online for 'Late October' Release

Wednesday January 27, 2021 7:54 am PST by
A case accessory from Cyrill, a sub-brand of Spigen, for Apple's long-rumored AirTags has been listed online for pre-order with a shipping date of "late October." The storefront listing, spotted by iMore, is for a case accessory titled "Basic Leather - Black" and said to be "for AirTag." Listings for the same product in alternate colors have also been added to Amazon. The accessory is...