Apple’s Find My iPhone app might get a new safety feature soon as the company is working on rolling out a new feature to prevent stalking.
As per The Verge, the safety feature would automatically prevent unknown tracking devices from broadcasting location details.
The feature, called ‘Item Safety Alerts’, spotted in the iOS 14.5 beta, will notify users if an unknown device being tracked on Find My iPhone is “moving with you” so you can remove it or disable it.
The feature seems to be designed to counteract a scenario where a Find My-compatible device is hidden in a pocket or bag and then used to track someone’s movements.
The ‘Item Safety Alerts’ setting was found in early versions of iOS 14.3, according to AppleInsider, but was removed until its reappearance in iOS 14.5. The setting is enabled by default in the beta and Apple seems to want it to stay on. If users turn off the setting, then the system will warn them that unknown devices can see their location without them being notified.
Addressing the risk of stalking in Find My iPhone is important because of Apple’s plans to open up the app to third-party accessories. Hiding an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook in someone’s bag to track them is difficult, but a small keychain-sized device like Samsung’s Galaxy SmartTag or Tile’s upcoming ultra-wideband (UWB) tracker could be a lot easier.
Apple’s rumoured AirTags could also be a candidate for misuse, and reintroducing this feature into iOS might mean they are on their way to release.
While it is not necessarily as powerful as a GPS beacon with a cellular radio, Apple’s Find My iPhone network may have more reach than users think. If an Apple device comes near one of these supported trackers, it can update its location, even if the tracker doesn’t have its own connection to the internet.