User successfully tracks package across the UK with an AirTag

AirTag Setup
AirTag Setup (Image credit: Joe Keller / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Another user has successfully tracked a package using an AirTag, this time in the UK.
  • Intego's Kirk McElhearn posted an AirTag from Stratford-upon-Avon to London.
  • McElhearn was able to follow the AirTag thanks to Find My and Apple's iOS device network.

Another user has successfully mailed an AirTag through the post, tracking the package using Apple's Find My network.

From Intego's Kirk McElhearn:

I live near Stratford-upon-Avon, in the United Kingdom, and I sent the AirTag to a friend south of London. I mailed this AirTag on Friday afternoon, and, with first-class postage, I expected the envelope to be delivered the next day.The AirTag weighs a mere 11g, so I put one taped to a card, then in a small bubble envelope for protection. I dropped it in the mailbox in my village, just down the road from my home. I made sure to open the Find My app on my iPhone when I was next to the mailbox; it showed the correct location.

McElhearn tracked the package to a local sorting station, then on its journey in a delivery truck to a mail center, a sorting center, and then finally his friend's house.

As the report notes, this means that at basically every step of the journey the AirTag was within range of an iPhone that was able to verify its location, allowing McElhearn to track the progress of the journey. Yet the piece notes this could raise some questions about the prospect of using an AirTag as a tracking device:

After the AirTag was delivered, my friend left the envelope on a table in his house. He has an iPhone, so I expected him to be notified of the presence of the AirTag after a while. According to Apple, anyone who is in the presence of an AirTag that has been separated from its owner for three days will get an alert on their iPhone. They are supposed to get an "AirTag Found Moving With You" message. It's possible that this alert only displays when the person is actually moving with the AirTag, but that seems somewhat limiting; imagine that you leave an AirTag in someone's bag at their home, but they don't take the bag with them right away. Should it take another three days for them to get an alert? Apple isn't clear enough about the way to prevent AirTags from being used by stalkers.

Apparently, the receiver got the AirTag on Monday but hadn't received Apple's touted alert stating an unidentified AirTag was in their vicinity. From Apple:

AirTag is also designed with a set of proactive features that discourage unwanted tracking, an industry first. Bluetooth signal identifiers transmitted by AirTag rotate frequently to prevent unwanted location tracking. iOS devices can also detect an AirTag that isn't with its owner, and notify the user if an unknown AirTag is seen to be traveling with them from place to place over time. And even if users don't have an iOS device, an AirTag separated from its owner for an extended period of time will play a sound when moved to draw attention to it. If a user detects an unknown AirTag, they can tap it with their iPhone or NFC-capable device and instructions will guide them to disable the unknown AirTag.

The report says that the sheer size of the iOS network means you're almost guaranteed an AirTag will be in range of an iPhone:

The reason for this is the sheer size of the network of iOS devices that can locate AirTags. Apple says that there are nearly one billion iOS devices around the world that participate in this network, and that ensures that you can locate AirTags in most situations.

You can read the full story here.

The same feat was accomplished last week by Dutch YouTuber AirTagAlex.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9