Apple’s AirTags Sent ‘Ghost’ Alerts Confusing iPhone Users, Says New the wall street journal report. AirTags, which were launched last year, feature anti-harassment measures designed to alert users when an unknown AirTag has been detected on their person for an extended period. The idea is to discourage the use of AirTags to track people without their consent.
the WSJ reports that these false alarms typically occur in the middle of the night and have started popping up in recent weeks. When someone receives an unknown AirTag alert, they are supposed to see an accompanying map showing where and for how long the AirTag was detected on their person. These false alarms, however, are accompanied by maps representing several straight lines radiating from a person’s location. If you have ever seen an unknown AirTag alert, this is very unusual and seems to indicate a bug in the system.
It is unknown how widespread this false alarm is, although it is not the only type of false alarm a person may experience. While testing the AirTag’s security features, I was repeatedly informed that my own AirTag was stalking me. Several users have reported a similar experience on Reddit and other social media. Similarly, other users have reported seeing confusing alerts triggered by their AirPods — an issue that Apple addressed in a recent update to better differentiate between alerts triggered by various accessories.
In the WSJ report, users say the alerts get on their nerves, especially when they can’t seem to find an AirTag on their person. In one instance, a user said they were unable to force the supposedly unknown AirTag to play and the FindMy app said the AirTag was unreachable. This also happened several times during my testing, even though the AirTag in question was only a few inches away.
Following several reports of unwanted harassment earlier this year, Apple said in February that it intended to make unknown AirTags alert people earlier and emphasize louder tones on sound alerts. Apple is currently rolling out an AirTags update for the latter in a firmware update titled 1.0.301.
During a recent Edge investigation, domestic violence experts said too many false alarms could be dangerous, as users could become desensitized to AirTag alerts meant to keep them safe. However, they also pointed out that there are design challenges that need to be resolved. While experts agree that the current notification window isn’t adequate, shortening it too much can also scare untracked people unnecessarily. This is because AirTags should always be able to identify if they have been planted on a person or if they are simply in close proximity to that person. It would seem that this recent series of phantom alerts proves that concerns about false alarms are justified.