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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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19,799


An Apple customer in the United Kingdom has successfully used Apple's Find My network to track an AirTag as it was being sent by mail to a friend in a completely different city.

AirTag-in-Envelope-Feature-2.jpg

Outlined in a blog post at Intego, Kirk McElhearn said he taped an AirTag to a piece of card, wrapped it inside a small bubble envelope, and then sent it on its way. Kirk lives in the small town of Stratford-upon-Avon, and he shipped his AirTag to a friend near London.

Using the Find My app on his iPhone, Kirk says he was able to keep track of his AirTag whereabouts, including its arrival at a shipping facility and a "highly automated mail processing centre." What's worth noting is that Apple uses its Find My network, which crowdsources anonymous data from iPhone and iPad devices, in the area to pinpoint the location of an AirTag.
It didn’t take long for my AirTag to start its journey. At 5:49, it had started moving, going into Stratford-upon-Avon, presumably for it to be loaded on to a truck to go to the next location. At around 6:40, it had left the town, heading north.

At 7:30, it reached the South Midlands Mail Centre, a "highly automated mail processing centre," a massive warehouse-like site where mail is sorted. The presence of even one employee with an iPhone, with Find My turned on, was enough to register this location, but it’s likely that many of the employees have iPhones.
Kirk built a custom script on his Mac which took a screenshot of the Find My app every two minutes as a way to log the movement of his AirTag. The video can be viewed in his blog post for those interested. A few days later, the AirTag successfully arrived at his friend's house near London.

Apple has a series of built-in parameters that are meant to prevent AirTags from being used for unwanted tracking. One of the leading ways Apple aims to prevent unwanted tracking is by alerting a user if an AirTag, unpaired with their iPhone or Apple ID, is found to have been following them for a certain period of time. The specific time period is unknown, but as Kirk finds out, it seems to be a rather long time.

Kirk says he expected his friend's iPhone to alert him that an unknown AirTag had been found on him, but even three days after his friend first received the AirTag, their iPhone failed to alert him to the presence of the unknown item tracker. His friend did however hear an audible alert from the AirTag, which is another method Apple uses to alert users to an unknown device. After the audible alert, it's unlikely that AirTags would send an alert to an iPhone.
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.

I therefore expected my friend to get such a message on or after Monday afternoon, three days after I mailed it. By Tuesday, he had still not received any alerts. As I write this article, I just checked in the Find My app, and the AirTag was last seen 13 minutes ago, at his location, but he still has not received any alerts.
Lucikly in this case, there was no potential harm in the friend's iPhone failing to alert him to the unknown AirTag. However, in other instances, there could be a danger if the built-in measures for unwanted tracking fail to kick in.

Article Link: AirTag Used to Successfully Track a Mailed Package Across the UK
 
Last edited:

countryside

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2016
656
2,170
Lucikly in this case, there was no potential harm in the friends iPhone failing to alert them to the unknown AirTag. However, in other instances, there could be a danger if the built-in measures for unwanted tracking fail to kick in.


What potential harm is there? If you have someone’s HOME ADDRESS there is not a lot of harm in sending a tracker to the house in the mail. It will simply show the airtag being at the address you gave.

You don’t get a letter or package and keep it your car. ??‍♂️??‍♂️ Once the package is opened, the gig is up.
 

Chrjy

macrumors 6502a
May 19, 2010
974
1,600
UK
What potential harm is there? If you have someone’s HOME ADDRESS there is not a lot of harm in sending a tracker to the house in the mail. It will simply show the airtag being at the address you gave.

You don’t get a letter or package and keep it your car. ??‍♂️??‍♂️ Once the package is opened, the gig is up.
I think you might have missed his point. He's not referring to a bunch of people sending AirTags through the mail!
 

AND411

macrumors member
Jan 22, 2021
31
42
A few months ago I sold my old car with a diesel engine to a guy for €1000. When the money was handed over, he told me that the car would be shipped to Africa and driven on there.
If there had been Airtags at that time, I would have liked to follow the way to Africa and beyond.
 

Lemon Olive

Suspended
Nov 30, 2020
1,208
1,324
What potential harm is there? If you have someone’s HOME ADDRESS there is not a lot of harm in sending a tracker to the house in the mail. It will simply show the airtag being at the address you gave.

You don’t get a letter or package and keep it your car. ??‍♂️??‍♂️ Once the package is opened, the gig is up.
Way too much is made of this "potential harm". I don't want the effectiveness and usefulness of the product to be further crippled by this nonsense.
 

CCerta112

macrumors newbie
Oct 2, 2013
18
17
Aachen
What potential harm is there? If you have someone’s HOME ADDRESS there is not a lot of harm in sending a tracker to the house in the mail. It will simply show the airtag being at the address you gave.

You don’t get a letter or package and keep it your car. ??‍♂️??‍♂️ Once the package is opened, the gig is up.

I could imagine a circumstance where a youtuber (or other semi-private person) let's fans send letters and packages to a PO Box (not their home address, to keep it secret) and unknowingly gets sent an AirTag.

Rather easy to do and hide, and suddenly that person has a stalker who knows where they live.
 

icanhazmac

Contributor
Apr 11, 2018
1,375
4,365
So the whole truck full of Apple devices gets hijacked?

It'd have been pretty cool if you could associate AirTags with your Apple ID upon purchase and track their shipping yourself.

The real issue would be the iphone carrying delivery driver getting a notification that air tags are following him and he disables them!
 

Napkin Carbuncles

macrumors newbie
May 12, 2021
1
11
San Diego, CA


An Apple customer in the United Kingdom has successfully used Apple's Find My network to track an AirTag as it was being sent by mail to a friend in a completely different city.

airtag-with-cup.jpg

Outlined in a blog post, Kirk McElhearn said he taped an AirTag to a piece of card, wrapped it inside a small bubble envelope, and then sent it on its way. Kirk lives in the small town of Stratford-upon-Avon, and he shipped his AirTag to a friend near London.

Using the Find My app on his iPhone, Kirk says he was able to keep track of his AirTag whereabouts, including its arrival at a shipping facility and a "highly automated mail processing centre." What's worth noting is that Apple uses its Find My network, which crowdsources anonymous data from iPhone and iPad devices in the area to pinpoint the location of an AirTag.
Kirk built a custom script on his Mac which took a screenshot of the Find My app every two minutes as a way to log the movement of his AirTag. The video can be viewed in his blog post for those interested. A few days later, the AirTag successfully arrived to his friend in London.

Apple has a series of built-in parameters that are meant to prevent AirTags from being used for unwanted tracking. One of the leading ways Apple aims to prevent unwanted tracking is by alerting a user if an AirTag, unpaired with their iPhone or Apple ID, is found to have been following them for a certain period of time. The specific time period is unknown, but as Kirk finds out, it seems to be a rather long time.

Kirk says he expected his friend's iPhone to alert him that an unknown AirTag had been found on him, but even three days after his friend first received the AirTag, their iPhone failed to alert them to the presence of the unknown item-tracker. His friend did however hear an audible alert from the AirTag, which is another method Apple uses to alert users to an unknown device. After the audible alert, it's unlikely that AirTags would send an alert to an iPhone.
Lucikly in this case, there was no potential harm in the friends iPhone failing to alert them to the unknown AirTag. However, in other instances, there could be a danger if the built-in measures for unwanted tracking fail to kick in.

Article Link: AirTag Used to Successfully Track a Mailed Package Across the UK
Seems like if the AirTag was left on the table for 3 days, it's not actually tracking anyone. The anti-tracking may take into account that the package receiver's iPhone has moved out of range from the AirTag in question several times, is therefore not on that person's person, and did not warn them.
 

1258186

Cancelled
Feb 5, 2021
813
1,008
I’ve seen other people report their AirTag doesn’t alert a nearby iPhone if it’s lost. I don’t know if these are isolated issues, defective AirTags, a known issue or a common problem that needs fixing by Apple.
 
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