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Technology

Online conflict escalates following police warnings after iOS 17.1 software update


SALT LAKE CITY — Law enforcement agencies across the United States have posted messages on social media following an iPhone iOS 17.1 software update, insinuating that a default feature could be dangerous.

Other sources around the web like Wired and USA Today have published debunkings of this claim, starting with the fact that Apple announced the feature in June at its 2023 developers conference.

The feature is called NameDrop, which was presented at the conference as an extension of AirDrop. With the new iOS update, NameDrop has been enabled by default on all updated devices, including Apple Watches with the new 10.1 update.

The feature works by holding the tops of two devices close to each other. What happens next is something most social media posts have failed to mention.

iPhone users activating NameDrop will then be asked to choose whether to “share” their contact, or rather “receive only”. Users can also exit the feature and choose not to perform any of these options.

Ultimately, NameDrop cannot be completed without the iPhone user taking action.

A screenshot of the feature’s demo at Apple’s 2023 Worldwide Developers Conference. (Apple Inc. via YouTube)

An Apple spokesperson told USA Today that “before a user can continue with NameDrop and choose what contact information they want to share, they will need to make sure their device is unlocked.” NameDrop does not work with locked devices.

Some social posts made by police have been updated with additional information and acknowledgment that their concern was based on safety precautions.

The feature can be disabled, which many commenters have said they have done. By going to “General Settings” then “AirDrop”, the user can uncheck the “Collect devices” icon to disable the feature.

AirDrop settings on an Apple iPhone, showing NameDrop enabled.  (KSLTV)

AirDrop settings on an Apple iPhone, showing NameDrop enabled. (KSLTV)

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