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.

Top Rated Comments

Eddy Munn Avatar
39 months ago
So an Apple Watch would be more suitable for my cat? Great!
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
infinitejest Avatar
39 months ago
brb...buying an Apple Watch for my 5 year old daughter.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Costino1 Avatar
39 months 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: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CalMin Avatar
39 months 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
39 months ago

Thief steals item. Thief turns off tracker. Great idea.
Not intended usage.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
klunernet Avatar
39 months 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)

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

iOS 18 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Friday April 12, 2024 11:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 is expected to be the "biggest" update in the iPhone's history. Below, we recap rumored features and changes for the iPhone. iOS 18 is rumored to include new generative AI features for Siri and many apps, and Apple plans to add RCS support to the Messages app for an improved texting experience between iPhones and Android devices. The update is also expected to introduce a more...
iOS NES Emulator Bimmy Feature

NES Emulator for iPhone and iPad Now Available on App Store [Removed]

Tuesday April 16, 2024 11:33 am PDT by
The first approved Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) emulator for the iPhone and iPad was made available on the App Store today following Apple's rule change. The emulator is called Bimmy, and it was developed by Tom Salvo. On the App Store, Bimmy is described as a tool for testing and playing public domain/"homebrew" games created for the NES, but the app allows you to load ROMs for any...
iGBA Feature

Apple Removes Game Boy Emulator iGBA From App Store Due to Spam and Copyright Violations

Sunday April 14, 2024 9:22 pm PDT by
Apple today said it removed Game Boy emulator iGBA from the App Store for violating the company's App Review Guidelines related to spam (section 4.3) and copyright (section 5.2), but it did not provide any specific details. iGBA was a copycat version of developer Riley Testut's open-source GBA4iOS app. The emulator rose to the top of the App Store charts following its release this weekend,...
Delta Feature

Delta Game Emulator Now Available From App Store on iPhone

Wednesday April 17, 2024 9:58 am PDT by
Game emulator apps have come and gone since Apple announced App Store support for them on April 5, but now popular game emulator Delta from developer Riley Testut is available for download. Testut is known as the developer behind GBA4iOS, an open-source emulator that was available for a brief time more than a decade ago. GBA4iOS led to Delta, an emulator that has been available outside of...
iGBA Feature

Game Boy Emulator for iPhone Now Available in App Store Following Rule Change [Removed]

Sunday April 14, 2024 8:06 am PDT by
A week after Apple updated its App Review Guidelines to permit retro game console emulators, a Game Boy emulator for the iPhone called iGBA has appeared in the App Store worldwide. The emulator is already one of the top free apps on the App Store charts. It was not entirely clear if Apple would allow emulators to work with all and any games, but iGBA is able to load any Game Boy ROMs that...
iPhone 15 Pro Action Button Translate

All iPhone 16 Models to Feature Action Button, But Usefulness Debated

Tuesday April 16, 2024 6:54 am PDT by
Last September, Apple's iPhone 15 Pro models debuted with a new customizable Action button, offering faster access to a handful of functions, as well as the ability to assign Shortcuts. Apple is poised to include the feature on all upcoming iPhone 16 models, so we asked iPhone 15 Pro users what their experience has been with the additional button so far. The Action button replaces the switch ...