AirTags used for parcel tracking | heise online

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.

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.”

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More from Mac & i

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.

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.


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