Yes, Apple’s AirTags can be used to track your spouse

From Samantha Murphy Kelly’s “I tracked my kid with Apple’s Airtags to test its privacy features” posted Wednesday on CNN.com:

I clipped a keychain with one of Apple’s tiny new Bluetooth trackers, AirTags, onto my son’s book bag and waved goodbye to him on the school bus. I watched on my iPhone’s Find My app as the bus stopped at a light a few blocks down from our street.

But then the tiny “key” icon on the app stopped moving. The item was “last detected” seven minutes ago at a busy intersection less than a mile away. Traffic, maybe? Five more minutes passed with no update. Is there an issue with the app? After another 10 minutes, my heart started to race; still nothing.

Finally, the tracker was detected four miles away in front of his school. Relieved, I decided more information in this case was worse; I’d go back to just tracking my keys. Apple later told me the delay was due to the tracker needing to communicate with Bluetooth on other iOS devices in the Find My network along the bus route before the AirTag’s location could be updated to iCloud and the app.

Still, my experiment highlighted how easily these trackers could be used to track another person.

My take: I’m going to get one on my dog.

11 Comments

  1. John Frantz said:
    Definitely putting one on my dog. As to tracking people, I think if the person being tracked has an iPhone he will eventually be notified that there is an unknown Airtag following him. Not sure how long that takes but I’m guessing there has to be a balance between someone stealing e.g. your bag with an Airtag in it and someone who you attached an Airtag to. You may not want the thief to know about the Airtag too soon.

    8
    May 6, 2021
  2. bas flik said:
    airtag will be everywhere. i want to buy them for my company keys. we use a lot of different keys with access to different rooms. and keys for company cars. given the goods we trade loosing one key can be really dangerous. so i decided to airtag them all. how many companies will use an airtag for this purpose? billions of airtag will flood the earth.
    analysts only look at spreadsheet in the past. they lack imagination for the future.

    13
    May 6, 2021
  3. Fred Stein said:
    I just bought a small container on Amazon to hold my hearing aids. It has a tiny pouch to hold an AirTag. It’s perfect for other uses, jewelry, medicines, especially when traveling.

    One can use AirTags as tahe check-list to make sure you don’t leave valuables behind.

    10
    May 6, 2021
  4. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    I have 8 AirTags on order delivering next month.

    Two will be for my regular & sun glasses. I will be ordering those Nomad AirTag Glasses straps for them (ships July) unless I can get something similar earlier.

    I’m thinking about getting 3D-printed wallet AirTag holders from Amazon – they’re the thickness of two credit cards the US seller claims.

    9
    May 6, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      AirTags are .31”, 5/16” or 8mm thick. A standard credit card is only 0.8mm thick or at worst 1.0mm. So two credit card thicknesses is only 2mm, 4x thinner than the entire AirTag. Is the holder only holding the larger diameter body or just the silver portion to provide a credit card like shape to stabilize the AirTag? One seller shows 6 CC measuring 7.9mm by digital calipers.

      My worry would be, aside from it taking up an 8 credit card space, that sitting on the wallet could crush the AirTag plastic section housing. But iPhones survive being sat on so YMMV.
      Good luck!

      5
      May 6, 2021
      • Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
        Thx! You’re right, Bart. Another picture shows it’s as thick as 8 credit cards like you said. Ew. No thanks.

        7
        May 6, 2021
  5. Rodney Avilla said:
    “Still, my experiment highlighted how easily these trackers could be used to track another person.”
    If AirTags were advertised as a means to track people, he would be complaining how inefficient they are, loosing track of his kids so easily.

    7
    May 6, 2021
  6. Ken Cheng said:
    Of course humans will always try off-label uses.

    6
    May 6, 2021
  7. Aaron Belich said:
    Uh, or he could just use the FindMy App to track his wife’s iPhone.

    AirTags are a poor substitute for active tracking. That’s really not their purpose.

    If someone wants active tracking, iPhone or an Apple Watch.

    4
    May 7, 2021
    • Kirk DeBernardi said:
      @ Aaron Belich —

      Ah, but one has to actively choose to let their device participate in “Find My”.

      AirTags are tethered to the one who sets them up.

      4
      May 7, 2021
  8. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    Admittedly I need to read up on this and I might be a bit off-base, but it has been mentioned that AirTags are designed to hamper the tracking of people with a built-in scheme of sounding an alarm to the unwary if they get “distanced” too long away from the device that set them up keeping with the reality that most things we keep, we tend to keep close.

    4
    May 7, 2021

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