Apple’s “Where is?” Network – also known as “Find My Network” in English – works with ultra-wideband and Bluetooth technology. Its real power, however, lies in the fact that it can use the countless Apple devices that are in the world to determine the location. A British journalist and hobbyist has now demonstrated how this can be taken to extremes: He used Apple’s recently launched UWB tracker AirTags to track a package.
iPhone network is broad
Kirk McElhearn, who among other things works as a blogger for the anti-virus company Intego, describes the attempt as follows: He took the 11 gram AirTag, stuck it on a card, put it in a small bubble envelope and then sent the package on its way through one of the red mailboxes of the Royal Mail. From a village near Stratford-upon-Avon in the West Midlands it was to go to South London. The parcel was already correctly recorded in the mailbox – and a little later, after emptying, in the sorting center. “That means that either the postal worker who picked up the mail and delivered it to the sorting center had an iPhone – or someone else at the sorting center.”
Arrived in London
Then the package set off on its journey. McElhearn could watch it go to the nearby town and then head north. It was also tracked in a large mail center in the South Midlands. McElhearn used a script to regularly take screenshots of the Where is? App on the Mac. He saw several stops at which the parcel was probably reloaded until it finally reached a sorting center near the recipient. The AirTag could of course also be located on this person himself – an iPhone owner.
Anti-stalking protection issues
What didn’t work, however, was the anti-stalking function that Apple always emphasized – actually, a third-party AirTag is supposed to report after three days via a nearby iPhone to inform its owner that he or she is being tracked. This did not happen three days after the parcel was sent, as hoped – possibly because it was left in one place. Foreign AirTags also make a noise – presumably also after three days. However, this is not very loud and can only be heard for 15 seconds. The AirTags are increasingly interesting for hobbyists. A developer succeeded in sending strings over the “Where is?” Network – completely offline, of course. The AirTags have also already been jailbroken.