Apple on Thursday announced updates to coin-sized AirTag tracking devices to prevent them from being used to surreptitiously track people, and not just find lost keys, wallets or other items.
AirTag devices, released early last year, are designed to attach to things people tend to lose and sync wirelessly with iPhone models, iPads or iPod Touch devices to signal where they can be found.
Reports soon surfaced that AirTags were being used for more unscrupulous purposes, such as being secretly attached to a car in order to steal it later or find out where the owner was going.
“We’ve learned that people may receive unwanted tracking alerts for innocuous reasons, such as borrowing someone’s AirTag-attached keys,” Apple said in a post.
“We have also seen reports of attackers attempting to misuse AirTag for malicious or criminal purposes.”
Apple said it is working with police and security groups to stop the abuse, which it claims is rare.
New iPhone models will alert owners to “unknown accessory detected” when they detect an unidentified AirTag in range.
The AirTag software is being updated to display a warning on first use saying that tracking people without their consent is a crime in many regions, and Apple will provide police owner information when warranted.
Apple has said it is working on making iPhones able to more accurately locate AirTag gadgets to help people find any devices that are dropped without their consent.
“AirTag was designed to help people find their personal items, not track people or other people’s property,” Apple said in a statement.
“We condemn in the strongest terms any malicious use of our products.”
Late last year, Apple released software that allows Android smartphone users to determine if an AirTag is nearby.