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Apple AirTags draining battery of devices close by (annoying.technology)
507 points by dewey on March 10, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 274 comments



I've seen this issue in a slightly different context. A few years ago, my Android phone began dying much more quickly than before. Looking at the built-in battery stats, nothing was amiss and there were no apps causing excessive wakeups. It was only when I used Android Battery Historian that I saw there was a ton of bluetooth wakeups caused by Google Play Services.

But why would it be waking up so much? Usually the wake requests originate from some other app, but I didn't see any associated wakeups in the stats dump. After a while I remembered that I installed GasBuddy recently, and a Google search revealed that other people had Bluetooth battery drain issues after installing it. Apparently GasBuddy had an ads SDK that aggressively scanned for Bluetooth beacons. Removing the app stopped the drain.

I was shocked that no battery stats screen showed GasBuddy was the culprit. Even the Battery Historian tool (which requires the user to run a Docker image and dump a bugreport) only hinted that there was some Bluetooth wakeups, but didn't show which app they originated from.

This AirTag seems to be a similar issue, especially if a less experienced user doesn't realized all the "Find My" wakeups are caused by nearby AirTags.

I think Apple needs to make the "deep sleep" states of their devices more strict so they can minimize drain when sitting (both when sitting overnight on a nightstand, or for a week in a living room). Notifications (besides calls) can usually afford to be batched since users are asleep or not nearby. As for AirTags, if one is being carried through an area, there's probably other iDevices that are being actively used nearby. They're already awake and using RF, so they can handle the AirTag ping with virtually no additional power consumption.


I used to work with the Google Play services team at Google. I believe they did eventually fix the battery attribution issue to attribute the usage to the app which used the service, not the service itself.


That could also just be a bug. I remember installing an energy sucking application in 2014 on my Android; I think it was Expensify. I had noticed my battery was draining pretty fast, but then I noticed it took forever to even charge the phone. Upon closer examination, the app was consuming like 65% of all the energy being used. It must have been a bug, as there's no way they would make an app drain the battery that fast on purpose.


LOL a long time ago I had a similar problem with Words With Friends. The app somehow never seemed to sleep. Even when plugged into a 2A charger, my phone would slowly drain.


This was a concern I had since day 0. I have been asking about things like this and been talked down to constantly as if I don't know how bluetooth works...

My other concern was if these are hijacking your data plan. Maybe it's not that significant amount if you have a huge plan but like Ting for example gives you 100MB of data usage each month on their basic plan. That's MEGAbytes. I checked my system clock app for example, and it's using like 500 MB a year of cell data. So the cumulative data it uses per year is about half of that plan's budget.

Settings uses like 1/5 of a month of data. What does settings even use cell data for? Every random app has data usage like this. Sure, you can turn it off but why should that be the user's problem in the first place? We don't live in an opt-out society.

If you're a cargo delivery guy and someone decides to ship 500 airtags for fun that you walk by, are you now just screwed in over charges because Apple decided it was OK to use your cell data for whatever purposes that have no benefit to you?


It does provide a benefit to you. You get to use the Find My network to help locate any missing devices you have and in exchange your devices also work as a node in the Find My network to help other people locate their devices. You can disable this by disabling Find My.


But that's the point OP is trying to make. It's an opt-out feature, and only once you know it's an issue and continuously making sure you're never opted back in.


Opt-in vs opt-out is a huge psychological difference.

Opt-out organ donation has like 90+% of the population, while opt-in only around 10%. You can believe how much of a difference does that mean.


The US is opt-in and has an organ donor rate of about 60%.

More than half of adults in the US choose to opt-in, and I believe that if there were better education and marketing campaigns for organ donation, more people would sign up, too.

Nothing stops Apple from doing the same education and marketing for an opt-in system.


Maybe. It's clear that disabling Find My means, per the description, that _your_ device is no longer a findable target via that network.

It's a lot less clear that it also means you are no longer a node in the network for other findable targets.


> My other concern was if these are hijacking your data plan. Maybe it's not that significant amount if you have a huge plan but like Ting for example gives you 100MB of data usage each month on their basic plan. That's MEGAbytes. I checked my system clock app for example, and it's using like 500 MB a year of cell data. So the cumulative data it uses per year is about half of that plan's budget.

I remember just a year or so ago everyone (this is hyperbole obviously) was freaking out at the idea of Amazon's Sidewalk using MEGAbytes of THEIR internet. Its kinda amusing how those concerns are rarely brought up for Apple products.


> Its kinda amusing how those concerns are rarely brought up for Apple products.

It's always brought up with regards to Apple products. Any justified or unjustified controversy surrounding Apple is magnified because of how divisive they are as a company. You're making this remark in a thread dedicated to discussion surrounding this controversy.


You're right, but I think the magnification of Apple news is more a result of them being the largest company in the world than them being divisive. Every decision Apple makes affects a significant portion of humanity.


I don't think that's true. While I do agree that it's a significant aspect now, Apple has almost always been controversial, at least among nerds. People were arguing about Apple products before their huge resurgence.


You can turn cellular data off in iOS.

If you have 100MB a month it would probably be smart to turn it off until you are ready to check email or whatever and there is no Wi-Fi.


100MB is enough to send hundreds of free internet messages such as iMessage or more traditional chat apps which avoids using limited text messages on the plan. That’s a legitimate reason to keep it enabled.

If you don’t use text/call data and can get away with mostly messaging on wifi and then having that the cell connectivity for wife check ins or emergencies at work, this plan costs like $5 a month or something. Compared to a jump to $20 or higher at the next tier. For a lot of people, that’s significant.

Work arounds shouldn’t be a real solution anyway. People can’t restart their computer to solve basic IT problems. Imagine if they had to change their phone settings through multiple layers of menus.

Aside from all or nothing cell data toggle, I’m not even 100% sure if disabling Find My’s data connection stops this situation. It could go through an unknown system service for all I know. Anyhow, I classify this as an essential security app that would be unfairly unreasonable to have to opt out of for this specific use case.

Your paid phone and service just shouldn’t be freely used without your consent to benefit other people while costing you money.

Maybe it’s a nice idea, but that’s not how anything works in the society we currently have.

Edit: also another thought on this topic as a whole… if you’re the only person who goes through a specific area that someone set up with AirTags, wouldn’t that make you personally identifiable when the AirTag owner gets alerted?

You could set these up in a vault for example. Imagine the WiFi signal gets through when it’s open. When the one vault manager comes to complete the alert circuit, you would have the times he’s there or even as a boss you could see if he’s skipping his duty.


I disagree with your concept of consent. You clearly accepted Apple's ToS when you configured your phone. I'm sure buried somewhere in there is a line about this. You also consented by simply buying their product. When it comes to Apple or Google's ecosystem you aren't ordering off the menu, you're eating at the buffet.

The solution seems very clear and simple to me. If you want finer grain control of your device, don't buy an Apple or Android device. There are plenty of alternatives.


"There are plenty of alternatives"

You forgot the /s


I use an app network firewall and restrict via whitelist of what I want to use on cellular data or fixed wifi (mobile hotspots are tricky).


That’s a big hammer

There is low data mode and per app opt-in/out


> If you're a cargo delivery guy and someone decides to ship 500 airtags for fun that you walk by, are you now just screwed in over charges

No because AirTags have to be enabled and registered before they become part of the network. At shipping time their battery is not plugged in.


I meant shipping activated AirTags as a “prank” or to otherwise cause chaos. People are already shipping individual activated ones to see where they end up.

Or if 500 separate people saw those news stories and each did it individually for legitimate package tracking, perhaps that would be a more believable situation.


That's a $50k prank to … use up some data and battery?

For 50k you can do a lot more damage "as a prank".


I assume you never visited YT?


>I have been asking about things like this and been talked down to constantly as if I don't know how bluetooth works

I am still unsure how to deal with these people. It would be rude to quote them and name them.

And that is especially true with Modern Apple. I say modern as in those who joined the cult after iPhone. These Apple apologist and fanatics thinks Apple could do no wrong.


There are some battery draining tricks you can do with Bluetooth apps on a phone to drain the device batteries.

Essentially if you did a ton of device queries to every BLE device visible, you could drain the batteries of every device in range. Transmission is probably a heavier battery drain so just making them talk to your phone creates drain.

It’s a single device example, but in a bar once I was showing a co-worker once how you could see and interrogate a lot of BLE devices. I pinged someone’s Fitbit, and read that it only had 3% battery left. Then it vanished. I’m pretty sure in the process of asking it to give me the info, it drained the battery.


Another thing that's basically a real security hole/opportunity with BLE sniffing is to record the unique IDs of all the BLE devices you can see, along with geo-location data.

Do this enough places and over time, and you get a map of what devices are where and at what time, with the assumption that the devices are probably linked to people.

Expand that to a government placing little innocuous BLE sniffers all over the place collecting data has some pretty evil big brother vibes. Or on everyone's phone so we are all sniffers.

But it kind of goes both ways. You could sniff outside a police station and just skim all the BLE devices you can find, and assume with enough data over time the frequent ones are mostly owned by police officers. Then have an app that alerts you any time one of those LEO BLE devices is in range of you. Basically an undercover LEO's Fitbit could give them up.


The government does put Bluetooth trackers all over the place. Cities like to use them for monitoring traffic flows and patterns. But I would not be surprised to find out they do more than just that with the data. Or I would not be surprised if the vendor who makes the hardware also collects and sells that data on top of the tax money they get.


I'm pretty sure this has been done for years and is one of the reasons why the truly paranoid always keep bluetooth turned off.

Creating a BLE based cop detector would be a neat way to sign up for harassment and surprice traffic stops. Unfortunately it would likely also work for identifying other groups.


Why bother with sniffers? Just ask apple and google for their list along with tue identity of the person.


I just tried this with the LightBlue app. Interrogated an iPhone. Reported 0% battery then disconnected. lol

Update: now I know exactly which model macbook and iphone my neighbor has, whom I have never met. That doesn't feel right somehow.


That seems like a neat demo. Out of curiosity, what software/hardware did you use to see and ping nearby BLE devices?


You can do this easily with an Android phone. These are the apps I use:

Lightblue

nRFConnect

BLE Scanner


I just used nRFConnect and found a device name that was strange to me. Got curious and asked Google.

A personal pleasure toy (aka sex toy) that is visible on Bluetooth. Just for fun I walked a bit around in the garden and found the direction where the signal got stronger.

I can now deduce with reasonable certainty which of my neighbors home has a remote controlled sex toy in it. As I know the family living there and how conservative they are with their cultural background I would not have expected that.

Imagine how I now just could now wait for the parents to make their big yearly holiday. From the website of the tool I know the specs on how long the battery holds when not in use. So if before the end of the holiday the tool is visible in Bluetooth I could reason with a very high degree of certainty that it was the daughter's tool. If it were so this tool would five her away. It would be a liability for her (if it is her tool). If their community knew, they would be appalled. So it is a liability for the whole family as well.

They are nowhere near the technical ability to identify this liability I just stumbled upon by chance.


I’ve found nRFConnect to be far and away the easiest to get started with.


Thanks! nRFConnect looks like a legitimately usefull tool for debugging and fiddling with BLE devices.

The nRF51 and nRF52 OTA firmware upgrades also look usefull, has anybody done something arduino like with this?


For the Arduino route I'd heavily recommend the Adafruit Bluefruit boards over the official Arduino BLE boards. Some of the Bluefruit boards are based on the nRF52 and therefore support OTA. The BLE implementation on the official Arduino boards (for example Nano 33 BLE) is okay but IMO Adafruit is doing a better job there.


LightBlue is available for iOS users as well.


Yes many of those are available for the iPhone too.

It's crazy how many devices you can find with those apps.


I dislike how companies are not only pushing proprietary mesh networks, but also making them automatically enabled for their users and opt-out. It feels like the companies are piggybacking on my internet connection, hardware and electricity for free to literally power their closed network. I don't get paid a penny for it, but their shareholders sure do.

Open mesh networks could be really cool, but instead of open networks, we get mesh networks that only allow Alexa to pump ads into your home, while excluding you, me and everyone else except Amazon and their partners from doing amazing things with the meshnets.


The day that I install any amazon sidewalk enabled device in my home is the day I hang up my hat and resign in shame, as a network engineer who's been building internet infrastructure since 1999. It's so gross and wrong.

amazon doesn't get a free ride on my residential internet service or arbitrary use of radio spectrum in my home.

note: I also have no smart doorbells, cloud connected security cameras, internet enabled lightbulbs, etc. They're nothing but riddled with bugs, incompatibilities, security holes, disgusting configuration options, obsolescence in less than a few years, etc.

just you wait until manufacturers of "internet of shit" things go really evil, and integrate low cost LTE radios into them with their own billing/centralized management/VPN system. it's already been proven that giving your smart tv the wifi password is a bad idea, because it'll just retrieve and display ads, and/or submit all your usage history to its manufacturer for resale to unknown 3rd parties. Now what if random items of electrical consumer technology phone home whether you want them to or not...


I have a similar feeling and I am quite pessimistic about the future in this regard. Currently, I have been able to avoid it pretty well, but appliances break and need replacing, and I suspect there will be a day where I cannot find a washing machine that isn't "smart", much less a car!


This is what I'm worried about.

Sooner or later we'll need regulation to prevent devices from requiring network connection.

I don't think we'll ever get it though.


More likely we will get regulation making smart, connected devices mandatory for one reason or another.


>for one reason or another.

energy consumption


I'd expect them to be more creative, but energy consumption's gonna do I guess


Let's set aside that regulation like that will come with a bunch of other stipulations which will capture the market for the incumbents...

There are unintuitive outcomes which could arise like: smaller companies might need to develop a product with access to the web to keep costs manageable, but larger companies, using their capital, are able to establish proprietary wireless connectivity (which is not the internet) that smaller companies are unable.

Peer to peer connectivity over public networks is a great asset for smaller companies with disruptive ideas, and this could destroy that.


> Peer to peer connectivity over public networks is a great asset for smaller companies with disruptive ideas, and this could destroy that.

I have no issues with a product having an option for internet connectivity, or even requiring it if it is a critical component of it's function.

Internet connectivity is not a critical component of my <dishwasher|washing machine|dryer|fridge|car>'s function however.


Yeah that wasn’t what I was arguing. There are some products which act based on real-time information from a network and without network access, would cease to function.


Big companies could also simply include their own networking equipment and data plan.

My understanding of the fake/non-mmWave 5G is it dramatically decreases cost for network operators. If that is true (please correct me if I am wrong), what stops tv manufacturers from including a tiny modem with its own gsm Internet connection that can do things like see if there is an update available or fetch weather information (based on included gps module)? Or the real reason, ads. They could even be simple text ads if network operators decide to charge a lot for data.


True, but I think the hypothetical from the GP was that internet connectivity must not be a requirement and I think 5G might be too close whereas something like radio clocks aren't. Perhaps a proprietary protocol and equipment would be different enough to allow companies to passively spy on their users. To stop TV manufacturers from including a tiny modem (proprietary or otherwise), language about what anti-consumer/anti-privacy behavior the network connection enables and why it shouldn't be a requirement for use, despite whether or not the network connection is fully funded by the manufacturer.


You should support organizations fighting for the user freedom, e.g., https://fsf.org.


Agreed.

But damn, that's a short list.



>... and I suspect there will be a day where I cannot find a washing machine that isn't "smart"...

What's worse is you'll have to have a monthly subscription to their service or it won't work.

I bet there are people just salivating at the thought of all that MRR.

Our future is one in which we don't own a damn thing. We're all renters.


This is one of the topics of Cory Doctorow's sci-fi book "Unauthorized Bread."


I am already receiving targeted ads for what appears to be a roomba subscription


> just you wait until manufacturers of "internet of shit" things go really evil, and integrate low cost LTE radios into them with their own billing/centralized management/VPN system.

Why bother? They'll iust use your neighbor's wifi (at extra rf pollution cost to your house) or the surveillance system on the streetlamp outside being paid for by your tax money

or remove the opt out option from 'your' phone


> or remove the opt out option from 'your' phone

This is why we need viable open source phone OSes. Refuse to “just install the app”!


It's impossible to install fully FLOSS OS on a typical phone, due the proprietary hardware drivers. The latter force you to buy new hardware every few years. Consider a GNU/Linux phone, Librem 5 or Pinephone, instead.


Doesn't help if your tv is using your neighbor's router to phone home and download ads


It's a reasonable way to live your life, but it's worth noting that most WiFi smart bulbs and switches can be liberated with a not-unreasonable amount of effort: https://blog.fosketts.net/2020/05/29/liberate-wi-fi-smart-bu...

Personally I benefit from being able to control the type of light and change it over the course of the day, and I've found a couple of uses for automatic switches which improve my life as well.

Point being, these things at least can be liberated from the IoT, where we all know what the S stands for.


Zigbee devices can be used in a closed mesh network, without an internet connection or any proprietary cloud or subscription. One needs a USB coordinator dongle [1], a small computer like raspberry pi, zigbee2mqtt [2] & Home Assistant [3]. It works perfectly. Devices implement various standardized "profiles" documented in an open standard ZCL/dotdot and a lot of devices from different manufacturers work right out of the box.

[1] https://sonoff.tech/product/diy-smart-switch/sonoff-dongle-p... [2] https://www.zigbee2mqtt.io/ [3] https://www.home-assistant.io/


Eye opening that your vacuum cleaner or smart bulb wants you to directly embed your WiFi password for set up. Not to mention, usually the cheapest ones are subsidized by, at best sales of your data, and at worst espionage and security backdoors.


After my mom was bed ridden for some time, I reluctantly installed some Alexa enabled smart bulbs and switches, so that my mom could operate it by voice commands. But I made sure that I created a separate wifi guest network with low bandwidth to ensure Alexa / smart appliances don't waste the bandwidth unnecessarily (even if they leak the wifi password).


> note: I also have no smart doorbells, cloud connected security cameras, internet enabled lightbulbs, etc. They're nothing but riddled with bugs, incompatibilities, security holes, disgusting configuration options, obsolescence in less than a few years, etc.

Yeah how dare they call them smart when they're such shitty products. Totally inferior quality.

EDIT: Recently I saw a lightbulb that cost $20, you know why? Better light. That's it.

You know what I'd love to buy these days? Jammers for inside the home, just to make sure there is no incidental communication.


I think the cable companies really ushered it in, with their dual SSID setup. I refused to use their gear for a host of reasons, this being one of them.


To be fair, the "public" SSID on cable company wireless routers is using a separate DOCSIS service flow, so it's not actually using your Internet connection like Amazon Sidewalk would be.


It's still using the same wifi channel and TDD/CSMA half duplex rf/air media contention as your home wifi service, in the typical cable operator all-in-one DOCSIS/router/wifi device.

Meaning that if you have any appreciable portion of traffic on the public SSID it can impact your own speeds/jitter/latency/service. It's not like these devices have indepenent secondary 2.4/5.x GHz 802.11ac/ax radios for the public SSID operating in their own separate 20/40/80 MHz channels.


This is true, although the public hotspot speeds are usually fairly limited so it shouldn't impact your private network too much.

I use my own equipment for a whole host of reasons, but I also appreciate having WiFi I can connect to more often than not without having to drain my phone's battery using it as a hotspot.


Extra WiFi traffic, even if not coming from your AP or devices, will still interfere with your own AP and devices for the reasons walrus01 pointed out, that WiFi is half duplex and needs to share the same RF space as every other WiFi device nearby.


and even worse in the scenario where the associated wifi clients are kind of far away and at a weak signal (like -77), so they're using more air time for more rudimentary modulation vs. the devices in your house that are using at least 64QAM. there's only a finite amount of airtime in a half duplex system...


> note: I also have no smart doorbells, cloud connected security cameras, ...

If you want a CCTV camera you can still get 'old school' commercial grade IP cameras from eBay. Mercifully free of cloud attachment, but with ftp, email and http notification. Probably will have dynamic DNS, but that can be useful.


I am pro open-source, decentralization, etc, all the things. Still, the value of a network of iDevices with "default on airtag tracking" is just so huge, and if they convince me (and they did) that they handle my data properly (or rather they don't handle it at all), I'm fine with it. Issues like this battery drain are of course unacceptable but I trust that that will be fixed by Apple.


So you are pro open-source, but you are supporting a company which actively fights it.


How does building closed source products fight open source? They’re not at odds with each other.


Because either you're struggling for human progress doing research and building tech that empowers people, or you're struggling for profit building harmful tech for the common people. Apple is in the latter category (to be fair, most if not all hardware/software manufacturers are) and has shown time and time again that they were strongly opposed to consumer rights:

- pushing updates to slow down older iOS to "encourage" users to buy a new phone

- starting with the iPhone they didn't even sell official spare parts, and did all they could to make it hard to crack the phones open (proprietary screw, fuck that) to repair them

- lying to consumers about warranty laws, implying their products would be covered only 1y despite european regulations mandating 2y minimum

- getting into cushy mafia-like agreements with phone providers which inundated the market with "cheap" iPhones subsided by non-iPhone subscribers

- using proprietary connectors wherever they can (no ethernet? no jack? FUCK)

- by making it harder to use non-Apple-approved applications on MacOS and making it so applications can't even start when their "approval" server is down?!

- and so much more, just like with every other company

We need tech that empowers people. Private companies and Nation States are building a dystopian nightmare that's the exact opposite of that (we're in a cross-over fanfiction mixing Orwell and Huxley). Apple is certainly part of that.


Sounds like you only read the headlines and not actually use any of their products

Also really? you are either all-loving-god or the devil, no greys for you


> Sounds like you only read the headlines and not actually use any of their products

How are these two things connected with the partent's post?

>you are either all-loving-god or the devil, no greys for you

No, but Apple is certainly a dark kind of grey: https://www.fsf.org/news/the-problems-with-apple-arent-just-....


"You're either with us or against us" is a successful rallying cry for extremists, but it's not how most people view the world. I think if you survey FOSS developers, you'll find a LOT of them (including me) use and enjoy Apple products - not sure how this fits into your world view. It's possible, I'd say completely normal, to both want to make money, and to improve the world. I think most people see this as a balance that needs to be struck.


> It's possible, I'd say completely normal, to both want to make money, and to improve the world.

Yes because we're all brainwashed into "making a living". In what world is it normal to have to pay just to live?! Making money is precisely the mindset that's destroying our entire planet.

I'm not saying things are binary good/evil but capitalism is certainly the one thing creating the most suffering on this planet, and is essentially the driving force behind everything climate change.

It's hard to find a corporation that can fill any form of ethical criteria. Maybe an organic bakery sources local products and produces quality breads, but when it comes to IT there is no "ethical company" because everything we build relies on slave labor from mines/factories and extreme pollution in the global south...

BUT i would be tempted to say an IT company is on the other side of the spectrum if it attempts to respect its users by fighting hard against planned obsolescence (only sourcing quality materials, making disassembly/replacement easy) and for free computing (full schematics for every single part of the hardware, full source code for all firmware). I just don't know a single IT corporation that fits the bill, although Purism/Pine64/Oxide get closer than most.

We need 30+ years warranty on all devices. How come washing machines from the 50s are still working today, but those produced 5 years ago are breaking down as we speak? Yes, that's because of profits, as explained previously. Eliminate profit as a driving force for society and suddenly you'll see a lot of data points starting to improve.


> - pushing updates to slow down older iOS to "encourage" users to buy a new phone

Apple down older iPhones to make their batteries last longer. They were penalized by court for not communicating this decision to iPhone owners, not for slowing down battery.


Because as long as you can do one, you have no reason to do the other if you are not philosophically inclined to. They are absolutely at odds with each other.


> if you are not philosophically inclined to

You can be pushed by shareholders/public opinion, in the same way they get pushed to be environmentally or privacy conscious


It's naive to think that a push by environmental/conscious reasons is as strong as one by the money.


Ironic given the original reason that GNU exists is not monetary.


Why is this ironic? It just proves my point: how large is GNU and how large is Apple?



Interesting - I didn't know you couldn't submit GPL-licensed code to the app store. It's surprising to me, but I can imagine a legal reason why it could be difficult for them to support. Still, seems like it should be possible.

But GPL isn't the only kind of open source. In fact, it's an extreme form. I've spent a lot of time contributing to open source projects, but I stay away from GPL, because they are really limiting in what you can do with them.


I'm not very principled about it (anymore at least). I like Apple for privacy and quality. But the back-end for my phone is NextCloud/Wireguard and Signal for messaging. I actively use Matrix and use Castamatic for podcasts (including lightning payments to creators). So I'm a fairly pro opensource/decentralization guy, but I need some apps and I want stuff to work reliably and fast. I tried Android with MicroG, it does not work for me, or rather, I'm not willing to make such a large concession for my "ideologies".

Edit: I know where you are coming from, and I respect and understand it. But to me maximum freedom is allowing devs and creators to set their own terms for allowing use of their products (nobody is forced in that scenario). If it's GPL/MIT/BSD, I think that is absolutely great. But I also respect you if you don't and I may use your software if feel I can trust you.


> Still, the value of a network of iDevices with "default on airtag tracking" is just so huge

What kind of value is that? We've been living very well without it for decades and it sounds like that tech is a very powerful enabler of stalkers while providing little value to the average person.

> Issues like this battery drain are of course unacceptable but I trust that that will be fixed by Apple.

How could you fix it? The concept of Airtags is to track every device at all times, which requires active cooperation (and battery usage) from said devices. You could poll devices less often, but the problem would still be here.


> > Still, the value of a network of iDevices with "default on airtag tracking" is just so huge > What kind of value is that? We've been living very well without it for decades and it sounds like that tech is a very powerful enabler of stalkers while providing little value to the average person.

I got my shoulder bag, kindle, passport, notepad, medicine, and cdc vax card back after they were stolen from me thanks to airtags.


A relative with Alzheimer’s can reliably find their possessions from their watch despite no longer having the mental faculty to remember where they are.

Perhaps they provide no value to the “average” person (as if that is a thing), but they are invaluable to many.


Assistive technology is a good point! But we don't need a global user-tracking/battery-draining mesh network for that!

Just make a tag to place on the back of your phone that reflects a signal, and have a "remote" that when you press the button sends a signal and tries to catch reflection, beeping at a certain volume depending on signal strength.

It's just like those "speech to text" machine learning programs. It's fantastic value for people who can't write, but applied to everyone it has overall very dangerous and damaging consequences.


> I dislike how companies are not only pushing proprietary mesh networks, but also making them automatically enabled for their users and opt-out.

I actually quite like that this particular feature is opt out because the goal is to make the mesh network actually useful and not just a white paper theoretical application with zero adoption. Requiring labor of any kind will exclude much of the population from the start, which, for this particular utility, is not tenable.

> It feels like the companies are piggybacking on my internet connection, hardware and electricity for free to literally power their closed network. I don't get paid a penny for it, but their shareholders sure do.

You get access to the benefits of this particular mesh network, which lets you locate your Apple devices more reliably than without it.

> Open mesh networks could be really cool, but instead of open networks, we get mesh networks that only allow Alexa to pump ads into your home, while excluding you, me and everyone else except Amazon and their partners from doing amazing things with the meshnets.

I agree that what mesh networking is being utilized for right now is not really very close to its potential, but there's also not much reason why Amazon or Apple should open their platforms up to third parties at this time. If you want to create something useful with mesh networking you have to sell the idea to the general population. Massive corporations like Apple, Google, or Meta are at a big advantage by having a huge network of users already from which they can push their ideas to the public, but it's a significantly greater challenge for anyone without that resource. Still, I think it could be done.


> I actually quite like that this particular feature is opt out because the goal is to make the mesh network actually useful and not just a white paper theoretical application with zero adoption. Requiring labor of any kind will exclude much of the population from the start, which, for this particular utility, is not tenable.

And people nearby you? Apple is draining your battery for their benefit, using your cellular data for their benefit.


Yes, everyone who has the feature turned on is pooling their resources together to create a common utility that everyone with the feature benefits from. I fail to see how this is an issue. This is not like Apple exfiltrating data from your phone back to them that can incriminate you like the CSAM debacle that's still unresolved, this is a tool that has a quite easy to understand benefit for those that are using it. I pool the resources of using some of my battery and data and in return I get access to a giant mesh network that helps in locating my devices. If I don't want to participate in this network, I can turn it off.

I get that a lot of people seem to have the issue with it being opt-out rather than opt-in. I think that this sort of feature needs to be opt-out because it better aligns with human behavior.


> Yes, everyone who has the feature turned on is pooling their resources together to create a common utility that everyone with the feature benefits from. I fail to see how this is an issue.

They didn't opt in to it. That's the issue.


It's myopic to focus on which way the toggle on the phone is actually set.

People who live in the Apple ecosystem don't do so in a vacuum. Apple announced AirTags to enormous fanfare, and clearly explains how they work.

They immediately sold out and are no doubt continuing to sell quite vigorously.

Does the median customer want AirTags and Find My Device to work well? We could do some polling to be absolutely sure, but I'm going to just skip that and say yes, they do.

Meanwhile, if it bothers you, you can turn it off.


Except they're not aware of the cost to them so it's not actually consent, and I can't stop them from sending apple or google a message to help track me if i turn one of my bluetooth devices on.


What is the threshold for how informed someone must be in order to be allowed to give consent or make their own decisions here? What responsibility would you place on Apple here versus on the consumers of its devices, specifically?

More than likely if you ask for more than what exists what will actually happen is that another blurb will show up in the long terms of service that most people don't read and people aren't any more enlightened about what exactly their device does.


Don't operate something you've sold to someone remotely for your own benefit with explicit opt in that is difficult to do without understanding. Full stop. Don't mine their device for data. Don't harvest anything at all from it without an explicit interaction or intentional manually configured automation.

So far, far, far away from where google/apple/ms have drawn it.


This feels like a really loose interpretation of operating something remotely. If they have a backdoor to your phone that lets them flip a switch, that's one thing... I think in this case it's turned on through a software update, which is in the control of the people using the device. That's another feature that is opt-out, by the way. Why? Because requiring input from users to update their phones results in most people not updating their phone, which is a security risk.

It's not so cut and dry and being that dogmatic about it in one direction when there's clear and significant downsides to doing that way is shortsighted. Even if you prompt the user asking for permission for every single thing going on on their device, what do you think the outcome of that will be? Most people I know have tons of notifications from every app they install on their phone because they don't even look at the popup after the first couple times it appears.


It would be nice if Apple recorded some visible metric on how much this is “costing” the user.

Eg how much energy or how much bandwidth.

Then we could make an informed decision.


For me personally the usage of my resources was apparently so low as to go unnoticed.

I had to be told by the Internet that it was even happening to an extent that could be noticed.

It would be interesting to have stats though.


I hear what you're saying: Apple's Monopoly on airtags is good for you.

Are there other monopolies you think are good for you? For others? For the world?


How on earth is that a monopoly? It's their product. That's like saying MS have a monopoly on Windows. Or VW have a monopoly on the Golf.

There's literally nothing stopping anyone else from developing an AirTag competitor.


Especially since an AirTag competitor existed prior to AirTags. Turns out if you have an existing network of billions of devices, you can offer a better working product.


It's more like... Apple doesn't really have much reason to open up their technology here to third parties and it doesn't make sense to, either. It's not whether or not other people can design applications for something like a gigantic mesh network other than Apple, just that in order for such a thing to be useful it has to be opt out, which means that the application would have to be developed in conjunction with Apple or by Apple.

If you allow third party applications utilize the tech but require an opt-in, it's effectively useless. If you allow third party applications to do so without an opt-in, it's dangerous.


I think this particular usage of monopoly is suspect/leading.

Tile has a monopoly on Tile devices. Ford has a monopoly on F-150s.

Yes a company has a monopoly on its products in many/most cases. That doesn’t mean they have a monopoly on the market though.


To be charitable, it's possible they meant "AirTags" in the way that you or I would say "Hoover" or "Marmite" or "Polaroid" - not to refer to Apple's specific product, but to internet-connected tags in general.


Because people can't comprehend the difference between 'doing it better than everyone else' and 'being a monopoly'


If no one would use it if it was opt-in, that says something about the actual demand for such a thing, aside the product makers.


It doesn't say anything about the actual demand, but about human tendency to take the path of least resistance. There are many things that might benefit me but I won't go out of my way to do, and that's the same for everyone else as well. Opt out means that I don't have to do anything but do get the benefits of that thing.

What is perhaps problematic is that it's not visible enough that this feature has tradeoffs or that there is an option to opt out, or even that the feature exists, but that problem exists for all sorts of software on the phone.


No it doesn't. It says something about network effects and the psychology of opt-in vs opt-out.


Not the psychology so much as the behaviour. As in, I can get away with doing X by making avoiding it opt-out. The psychology, aside the decision to make an effort, I imagine as being aware and informed in terms of that decision. Which falls back to the behaviours performed to prevent that.


An egregious way internet providers do this now is to not only use your electricity, but also your internet bandwidth and router (!!) to create their so-called hotspot network. Obviously this is opt-out, poorly notified and hidden behind a bunch of dark patterns to disable.

Looking at your Xfinity, coverage across all of SF..


> but also your internet bandwidth

Usually, not. You get the full bandwidth of your DSL line when you need it, the hotspot either only gets what remains (aka is in idle) or has its own PPPoE session that lives outside of your contractual bandwidth limit (obviously that one only works when the line bandwidth is greater than the bandwidth you're paying for).


Does anyone know how much use these get? When I'm travelling I see them all over the place, but I haven't personally ever used them (or met anyone who did) and never had any idea how to get credentials for them


I use the Xfinity one all the time (and have customer-owned equipment in my end, so I don’t even provide an Xfinity hotspot at home).

On that one, you login with your Xfinity account.


In the case of Optimum/Altice (Long Island, NY), you use the credentials for your Web login account (which carries its own risk, as that’s also your billing portal).

I don’t feel that it works especially well. They make it difficult to log into different hot spots. They have a “remember this device” thing, that doesn’t work very well.


> An egregious way internet providers do this now is to not only use your electricity, but also your internet bandwidth and router (!!) to create their so-called hotspot network.

To be fair, it's not a bad idea... if it was open for everyone (helping out one another) and not just benefiting their customers (helping the company extend its reach). As much as i hate Free ISP here in france, for some time when it was impossible for me to get connected to xDSL (but my neighbor was!) FreeWifi really helped me stay connected to the Internet.

Still, fuck them for calling it FreeWifi (wtf, a corporation is like the exact opposite of freedom). If you're looking for truly free wifi communities, i strongly recommend to check out Freifunk they've been doing that for a long time building OpenWRT images for popular consumer modem/routers in Germany.


IIRC the first ever successful prosecution for "hacking" rested on the idea of "stealing electricity" (see [1]). This is the prototype of all hacking laws from which 'compute misuse' laws derive because it was an indisputable example of loss/harm.

How does this foundational principle not apply to Apple 40 years later?

[1] The Hacker Crackdown Book - by Bruce Sterling


> it feels like they are using my internet connection, hardware and electricity for free

That's exactly what they're doing


> we get mesh networks that only allow Alexa to pump ads into your home

I didn't realize Apple AirTags were enabling ads for Amazon, or apple was using AirTags to pump ads for Apple, or is this just an exaggeration? Surely we got more mesh network than ones that push ads? I like the ones that help you find lost/stolen things.


I believe they mean things like Amazon Sidewalk, where it co-opts your home internet connection to serve Amazon devices.


I read the comment that this was all we were were getting (mesh networks run by private companies that weren’t helping us), while Apple is pushing something that many find useful and they aren’t using it for other nefarious purposes (that we know of).


An annoyance that is driving me away from the Apple ecosystem is the lack of choice when it comes to these new features - they are forced onto you with no way to disable them and sometimes radically modify the behavior of the device you purchased and may make it unsuitable for the original purpose you bought it for. I'm still using an iPhone and plan to get the new SE (and only because of Touch ID is back - Face ID was a dealbreaker) but for work I got myself a Thinkpad. Some things are worse, but at the very least I can be confident that once I do get a setup that works it'll likely stay working for years without breaking overnight because someone at Apple wanted to earn a promotion with a feature that's completely useless to me.

In my case, the audio devices menu on Mac/iOS displays nearby AirPlay targets, including those not on the LAN. My neighbors got their misconfigured so it always pollutes my menus with no way to disable this even though I never use AirPlay and don't have any compatible hardware (nor intend to get any). Every time there's a risk of misclicking and accidentally broadcasting a meeting's audio or (if they have auth enabled) annoying the neighbor by waking up their Apple TV (or taking over whatever they've been watching), and yet I have to faff around with that menu constantly because of the next point:

The AirPods auto-switching/roaming introduced in Big Sur made mine completely unusable due to some edge-case bug (even disabling the auto-switching doesn't make them as reliable as they used to be back when they were released, and it takes me 30 seconds of connecting/disconnecting/switching between audio sources upon joining a meeting to actually get it working) forcing me to buy a USB headset. My AirPods are still OK for music on iPhone but became completely useless for meetings even though I bought a second pair just for that reason. - I just can't afford to waste 30 seconds of every meeting gesturing like an idiot while screwing with my audio settings just to get people to finally hear me.

The new "hide my email" feature in Safari now pollutes every email form field with a dropdown that I'll never use, and yet again no way to disable this.


The Find My network can be opted out of in the settings [1]. And if I remember correctly, it asks you to opt in (but I might be remembering wrong)

I have somewhat the opposite opinion though that there are way too many settings in iOS now and it does get difficult to dive through all the menus. Best thing I can recommend is to use the search in the settings.

[1] https://www.howtogeek.com/725664/how-to-opt-out-of-apples-fi...


Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions is an example of a nested settings labyrinth that is somewhat hard to navigate for parents just trying to keep their kids from seeing bad stuff, esp. as it interacts with individual app behaviors. Ex: set TV restrictions to 9+ and the Netflix app entirely vanishes, instead of just filtering its content. Scalable trustworthy content filtering delegation for families seems unsolved.


A prompt of "these apps will now be hidden" sounds like a start.

Getting more specific and explaining *why* certain apps are being hidden for a given age setting would be even better. Each app would probably provide its own explanatory string to be displayed (so the liability and complaints can be shifted to the apps, and the whole idea could actually get off the ground ;) ).

I'm honestly curious why Netflix is being hidden in particular. I immediately thought of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COPPA, but then realized that law is around data collection and privacy. Is Netflix just checking out completely because of that, or is there some more nuanced media-specific thing they're avoiding falling afoul of by disappearing for 9+?


On the apps, yes a ton of wildly popular services will vanish below 13yo.

I understand the calculation on the companies side, and there’s also a widespread “children shouldn’t be using/doing/viewing anything mildly risky” kind of mentality spreading around that makes it a no-risk move to just ban kids from a platform.

I recently wanted to move a youtube account inside the family management umbrella, and setting it’s age at 11 meant the account couldn’t see nor write comments on any video anymore. And there’s no authorization the parent can give to lift the restriction. Of course to move the age back you need an official ID as proof, so it was a one way move…


Isn’t that because of COPPA, which makes it illegal to retain any personally identifying information about or from people under age 13?


Yes and no. COPPA has a direct role in the 13 yo cut-off, but it’s not the whole story.

For instance I’m directly mentioning Youtube, but outside of comments it’s still somewhat usable for a 13- yo kid.

Twitter could have set a mode for 13yo (idk, have parents pre-vet the tweets if they are really into controlling ?) but it looks like it was simpler for them to just ban pre-teen accounts.

I’m not sure facebook can deal with pre-13 yo either.

Basically the shittier the company, the less it will be able to handle the pre 13yo case, and I wouldn’t put the blame on COPPA.


I’m not sure if this an Apple or Netflix issue . Is there an api that Netflix could use to determine if content restriction is enabled ?


> Read the media rating on a device and determine what media to display on your app.

https://developer.apple.com/documentation/managedsettings/re...


Seems kind of ridiculous that in order to opt out of Apple's airtag network you essentially have to give up the ability to find your phone if it gets lost.


No this will just turn off the ability to find your phone by using other people's phone. You will still have the phone report its location and be able to locate it in "Find My" but lose features such as being able to find the phone if its out of battery/turned off/not in cell reception range.

Image of the current settings and explanation: https://imgur.com/a/TepOqb2


It's not ridiculous at all - you don't get to reap the benefits of the network without participating.


Find My iPhone primarily uses the phone to self-report its position when requested over the Internet.

This new "Find My" network (what a stupid name, btw) also allows to use other devices to report positions of nearby devices for those that don't have a data connection (AirTags or iPhones that were powered off).

The problem seems to be that a single toggle controls both features, while the first feature doesn't rely the community network and should remain available even if you opted out.


As others are mentioning, I see two toggles, and the second toggle is "Find My network" which is the one that works by other people's iPhones detecting your iPhone even when it's offline, in power reserve mode, or powered off.


Thats actually how it is set up.

Current settings screen: https://imgur.com/a/TepOqb2


This is not how it works. There are two different toggles, one for the Find My system, and one for just having your iPhone report its last condition. If you dont care about being able to find your phone/devices when theyre off, then you can simply opt out of the Find My network and rely on the basic position reporting.


They use the same system


They didn't use to, though. And you can't get that old functionality back while disabling the new.


Yes you can, they have different toggles.

There are currently two independent systems for finding your phone that work in different but complementary fashions.

Well arguably 3 systems, an iPhone can also be set to report it’s location when the battery is low.


As I understand it, Airtags are low-power Bluetooth devices with no GPS capability.

If your Bluetooth transceiver is disabled, your iOS device will not see nor report the locations of any Airtags that are otherwise in range.

If you do enable Bluetooth on an iOS device, any Airtags detected will be reported to Apple over any available data connection, and this cannot be disabled in iOS as far as I know.

Disabling Bluetooth will likely save any device's battery. This is separate from GPS and mobile data.


> If you do enable Bluetooth on an iOS device, any Airtags detected will be reported to Apple over any available data connection, and this cannot be disabled in iOS as far as I know.

That certainly seems to contradict Apple's own documentation on the Find My network. At least according to my interpretation, it seems very clear that disabling the "Find My network" toggle will disable your device's participation in the network.


I don't think it's clear. It's clear that it will disable the ability for _your device_ to be a _findable target_ device in the network.

It doesn't particularly imply that your device isn't still acting as a 'base' for other devices in the network.


It seems pretty clear to me that the setting is symmetrical, and disabling it prevents your device from being discovered by other devices and from sending messages about other devices it discovers:

> Find My can use the Find My network to help find devices even if they are not connected to the internet and, for supported devices, even if they are turned off or erased. Devices in the Find My network use Bluetooth wireless technology to detect missing devices or compatible items nearby, including AirTags and compatible third-party products registered to your Apple ID, and report their approximate location back to the owner. If a device is turned off or erased, that location is also visible to members of the owner’s Family Sharing group with whom they have chosen to share the location. The interaction is end-to-end encrypted, and Apple cannot see the location of any offline device or reporting device. When your device participates in the Find My network, it can both be located by the network and anonymously help locate other missing devices. You can choose to have your iOS or iPadOS device not participate in the Find My network by going to Settings > [your name] > Find My > Find My [device] and tapping to disable Find My network.


This is partially tongue an cheek, but have you considered playing instructions on how to properly setup security to your neighbors airplay speakers?


They might never even realize what happened and think the message was automatic


    > sometimes radically modify the behavior of the device you purchased and may make it unsuitable for the original purpose you bought it for.
This is one of the reasons (along with price) that I try to stick to Apple products that are too old for them to care about. I'd like to see them try to remove functionality from my iBook G4! (Granted, it didn't have as much functionality to begin with, but what it does it's stuck with for now.)

I tend to research purchases extensively before I buy, and it's incredibly frustrating when the manufacturer decides that actually, the product I bought wasn't finished yet, let's have an update to add/change new and exciting features. I chose to buy a specific device with specific features, and if I decide I want new features I'll trade it in for next year's model.

(Incidentally, is it possible to get security updates for Apple devices without getting feature updates? Not for the G4 of course, but my iPad mini keeps asking me to upgrade iOS and I don't want functionality to change.)


> (Incidentally, is it possible to get security updates for Apple devices without getting feature updates? Not for the G4 of course, but my iPad mini keeps asking me to upgrade iOS and I don't want functionality to change.)

No, and then yes, and then no again:

No, if it's older than iOS 14.

And then yes, if it is:

https://9to5mac.com/2021/06/07/apple-will-let-users-stay-on-...

And then no again :-(

https://www.techspot.com/news/93052-apple-stops-issuing-ios-...


Unfortunately that doesn't really work for devices that connect to the internet and/or deal with untrusted data - those have to be kept up to date.


re: AirPlay speakers, if you really never want to use AirPlay you can apply a configuration profile that disables it entirely. These are the profiles that allow IT departments to enforce all sorts of policies on employee computers. You could use ProfileCreator to make one: https://github.com/ProfileCreator/ProfileCreator

Increasingly it feels like powerful configuration settings are only available via IT management profiles like these. I use one to enabling full system logging since that’s the only way.


Oh thanks, I'll definitely do that. I use profiles on iOS and am fairly familiar with them but didn't bother checking as I assumed macOS not being so locked down wouldn't have "profile-only" settings.

I'll also use the opportunity to disable Apple News, TV+, widgets and similar bloat I'm not using.


Wow I’m glad to meet someone else that does this as well! Next iOS device I get I’m going to set it up as “managed” from the start so I’ll have access to the more powerful security configuration profile settings.

It’s telling that these days corporate IT departments have more powerful configuration options available to them than us mere users.


> It’s telling that these days corporate IT departments have more powerful configuration options available to them than us mere users.

If it was purely up to Apple they'd rather not give anyone these options at all, however that won't fly in the enterprise so they have to compromise.


> In my case, the audio devices menu on Mac/iOS displays nearby AirPlay targets, including those not on the LAN. My neighbors got their misconfigured so it always pollutes my menus with no way to disable this even though I never use AirPlay and don't have any compatible hardware (nor intend to get any).

Make it play Rick Astley until they fix it.


Play the russian national anthem on loop if you really want to make them hustle


Or the shitty fluted version to extra grating (and extra speed!).

Could be a fun wardriving project to do.


> In my case, the audio devices menu on Mac/iOS displays nearby AirPlay targets, including those not on the LAN. My neighbors got their misconfigured so it always pollutes my menus with no way to disable this even though I never use AirPlay and don't have any compatible hardware (nor intend to get any). Every time there's a risk of misclicking and accidentally broadcasting a meeting's audio or (if they have auth enabled) annoying the neighbor by waking up their Apple TV (or taking over whatever they've been watching)

"Accidentally" broadcasting a few times is probably all you need to do to get them to fix their stuff... They probably don't even know.


1. I empathize with all your pain points

2. "forcing me to buy a USB headset." --> If it has a boom, everybody on the meeting, unknowingly, thanks you :)


I haven't found anything that compares to even a middling wired boom mic. Wireless has too much latency and non-boom has too much noise.

The only thing better is an actual VoIP phone (eg Polycom).


It is polarizing though. There are a lot of people who will get positively offended at the notion that their wireless earbuds are not perfect.

One of the things that biases is that they hear the others OK, so assume the earbuds are fine. What needs digging is to understand that when somebody has open mike like that, most meeting software engages heavy noise reduction or even half-duplex conversation; so there's a lot of interruptions and "what did you say" and garbled voices for other people, that is hard to trace to root cause of that open busy mike.


Oh man, the half-duplex conversation is terrible. If people start cutting off whenever someone else speaks, I tell them to wear headphones, but I really don't understand how headphones + push-to-talk isn't standard for everyone by now.


It's the difference between:

1. Grouchy geek who wants to optimize

2. Cheerful regular person who thinks everything is great (*and doesn't really want to bother)

As well, it reminds me of how everybody believes themselves to be a great driver. Try getting advanced driving school gift certificate to a friend, family or special someone - they almost universally find it insulting and offensive. "I've been driving for 20 years!". (sure, what new skill have you learned or worked on in last 19.8 years?)

Similarly, no matter how kindly I suggest headset, I invariably hear some variation of angry "I do this for a living, trust me" or a strangely patronizing "No, this works great".


Hmm, the "oh you're cutting out, you aren't using headphones, right?" works great for me, because the accurate prediction of non-headphoneness is enough to make them believe that that's the problem.


Vendor lock in means vendor upgrades. The last time I used google maps (maybe 6 years ago?) you couldn't have any history of your recent destinations if you also turned of google search history...

Now I run CalyxOS, haven't used google maps in a long time, and maybe i'm worse for not knowing about speed traps or the fastest route, but... I feel fine.


Have you considered blasting them with the most annoying music you can find until they fix it? Deny all culpability of course.


I believe there is a billboard which even ranks the most annoying tracks every year. I remember Frozen's "Let it go" & James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" were on it too. Not recommending GP should do it - just found it an interesting fact to add here.


> Some things are worse, but at the very least I can be confident that once I do get a setup that works it'll likely stay working for years without breaking overnight because someone at

Microsoft are working on fixing this soon

Leave now before turning off secure boot is disabled


Reminds me of the "Songs of Innocence" U2 debacle.

You get less and less control over what you can do with Apple. They run a good PR game but they really like to micro manage so much.


> I can be confident that once I do get a setup that works it'll likely stay working for years without breaking overnight

I feel the opposite. I switched to Pop!_OS a year ago, and had a fairly standard setup. A recent update broke my dock and my launcher and made the whole machine unusable for days. I eventually fixed it, but the dock kept crashing and the launcher was acting wonky, so I've switched back to Mac. I don't like everything about Mac philosophically, but at least It Just Works!


May I ask you why Pop OS! I think there are much more stable distros out there. But sure, you do have to tinker with linux the first time to make sure every hardware is properly supported, but afterwards I have to say it may be the most stable out of all three. I have really nasty software bugs on Mac as well, random process going 99% CPU, slow downs, etc.


Pop!_OS is presently based on gnome a broken mish mash of c and JavaScript and extensions which rather than being written to an actual extension API merely monkey patches the JavaScript.

When the underlying JavaScript to be patched created by gnome changes extensions can silently break.

Outside of gnome land this really isn't at all normal. One could for example have used i3wm without issue for the last 12 years, awesomewm for 14, compiz for 16, KDE for 25 years and if you really hate change there is a fork of KDE 3 so you could have pretended its still 2002 for the last 20 years if you like while still actually making use of current versions of everything from the kernel to your web browser.


I just updated from Catalina to Monterey and the airpod switching is magical. Always plays from the device I want.


I must spend time near hundreds of AirTags each day, yet my battery doesn't seem to be affected. Is it possible somebody is exaggerating? Or omitting relevant info?


Maybe the author is talking about devices that are asleep/off? They mention "weeks" at one point, making me think that the AirTags wake the devices from sleep often, which you'll notice in an iPad that dies after one week instead of a month while sleeping, but not in a phone that you charge every day.


I've actually had exactly this problem with a really old iPad recently. It would last 2-3 months if I never touched it, now it's always dead when I go to reach for it, which is maybe every 2 weeks-ish.

Just assumed the battery hit some sort of cliff but now this article has me wondering if my neighbors got an airtag.


Airtags are based off of Apple's existing BLE Find My network, so it might not necessarily have to be an airtag. Off the top of my head, I know that airpods had a similar functionality enabled a while back.


My iPhone barely registers any battery usage by Find My but it hammers my iPad drawing the battery anywhere from 20 to 50% overnight. It’s a very real and very annoying problem.


And we still wonder why misinformation moves so much faster than truth. It has to be some kind of emotional thing. How many people just saw the headline, immediately decided it must be true, and will now be sure to mention it any time someone mentions AirTags in the future.

I doubt this is exactly a new phenomenon, but it sure seems surprising the human race has made it as far as we have successfully.


To be fair, you've fallen into the same trap. One person says they don't have a problem, you believe them and start saying the first statement must be misinformation.

It's possible that both people are correct and the circumstances that cause the battery to drain require being connected to a AirTag, not just near any old AirTag. Or there are other circumstances that cause the battery to drain.


I don't think I have. I also have an iPad, and I have AirTags, and it does not have a battery drain problem, which is one additional data point for me. Plus, this is the default, expected behavior, and the post that started this discussion is disputing that. Without adequate evidence to back it up. The onus is on them to put forth convincing evidence, or it is nothing but another conspiracy theory. Presuming the status quo is not falling into any trap, it's what everyone should do when presented with a claim that deviates.


My experience dealing with customer support is that there is almost always an actual problem when a customer complains.

They often don't know the right words to use, and have no idea why an issue is happening, or they might come up with a completely wrong explanation. So it's easy to dismiss their concerns by saying things like "this doesn't make sense" or "it works on my machine".

It's only when you start digging deeper, investigating what exactly the customer could mean, that you eventually discover the root of the issue.

Of course, these investigations are time consuming an expensive, often the customer stops following up with you, or you might not understand the behaviour well enough on your own. So very often you don't find the underlying cause.

But calling someone a liar just because you can't reproduce their problem is short-sighted and stupid.


You have better chances of resolving issues within a company, but the mechanics are exactly as you describe.

Being someone who likes to solve these problems, I'm aware that cost sometimes require you to walk away from solving a problem.


Anecdatum: There's two iPhones and an iPad in this flat along with 3 AirTags - there's been no change in battery life since the AirTags arrived a few months ago.

Maybe it's only when you're in local contact with not-your AirTags?


I've had some broadcast-happy wifi light bulbs drain iOS devices because they are on the same SSID and vlan. I'm pretty sure running Home Assistant with some random open source plugin the actual issue. Turning off the light bulbs fixed the battery drain. Eventually I just moved the iOS devices to another SSID and vlan, which was a better fix.


Without more detail, I find the author's observation hard to accept at face value.

The iPad battery usage being shown doesn't account for just the normal "asleep" battery drain, which, if it's not broken out specifically, could be just misleadingly assigning the Find My usage as the main part of it. (as the only thing that had active functions)

It would be better to show what the battery usage/drain is without any airtags nearby and make sure he/she isn't just measuring the normal sleeping usage and inaccurately saying that Airtags caused it.


Things broadcasting on WiFi can drain an iPad. I have some WiFi light bulbs and they are pretty noisy. I had to put my iPads on a separate vlan to keep them from draining in a few days of standby.

My Mac laptops don’t have this issue. I think it’s because they are configured to not awake up on standby unless plugged in.


Now that's an interesting one. I'm glad I haven't run into that. I've got ~50 noisy little wifi switches in my house, but it hasn't affected my iPad battery life. -knock on wood-


I'm 90% sure Home Assistant is waking up the bulbs more than necessary. (Yay random open source plugins!) It's not a problem for anything else on the network.


I've had this issue too. My iPad pro is generally within 4 foot of an airtag which is attached to my keys. During the day I don't see any real battery drain however during the night it seems to be draining the battery at an accelerated rate.

I'd wake up and check it within the battery info section to see Find My using 90%+ of the battery over the last 24hrs.

I now have a shortcut setup to disable bluetooth on the iPad from midnight > 7am. Find my usage drops all the way down to <2% and battery drain is very minimal - if I leave bluetooth on overnight it jumps all the way back up and drains approx 40-60% of the battery overnight.


Curious, none of my devices seem to be suffering like this with my air tags all over the house.

I even have some very rarely used devices where “find my” doesn't show that much usage.

Is this tied to a setting or bug?


I believe it was a bug that was resolved in one of the latest iOS 15 point releases.


I saw this before and some combination of turning it off and on and updating os fixed the issue. For me it’s 2% of battery.


AFAIK you don't participate in the network when Find My is disabled. Not the best solution, but maybe feasible for devices that are only used at home.


You can still find your device but only if it's turned on. So turning off the Find My network doesn't stop you from finding devices that aren't at home but it does stop you from finding ones that are turned off or run out of battery.


There appears to be no proof that this is the case. It might be, but the action by which it would be draining the battery isn’t described (or even hinted at).


One possible explanation could be that the fallback for U1/UWB chips in devices without them sucks?

iPhones >=11 have UWB, iPads don't afaict.

https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/security/sec1e6108efd/...


Could you theoretically fill a backpack with a few hundred of these and piss off everyone around you? Asking for a friend.


Would be much easier to script that all out and have a single Bluetooth device.

https://github.com/seemoo-lab/openhaystack#how-to-track-othe...


Do you know if I can use this to track a tag from the web if I don't own a recent Apple device?


Probably using QEMU and an macOS VM.


Oh interesting, thanks. Might require a TPM though.


There are scripts to setup QEMU with all the correct widgets.


At about $3000 (tax included) per 100 you could probably do more interesting things with say $10,000. Like giving stacks of 100 $1 bills to everyone around you except the people you want to piss off.


Right- I feel a Raspberry Pi and a bluetooth module (or a handful of them) would be a lot cheaper. Set it up to repeatedly ping everything in range, stick it to a battery pack, and just go about your business. It would certainly illustrate some of the many shortcomings of Bluetooth, and always-listening services.

I'm not advocating that you should, keep in mind. It certainly seems to be in poor taste, but there may be a platform for using it educationally, I.e. hacker cons.


Why are not seeing the next evolution of whatever bluetooth (a hardware device and a standard to talk to similar devices in cross vicinity?) is


I was going to say: you should be able to program it on a single esp-32... and then I noticed the sibling's comment and a working prototype.


The title is rather inaccurate, a better and less attention seeking title would be:

"Apple AirTags draining battery of your Apple devices close by".

And then you can talk about Apple AirTags draining your Apple devices, e.g. in order to locate the Apple device of someone else your devices will use of a lot of battery in the process.

My hunch is that users want to be able to locate their lost Apple device at all times and AirTags improve that capability.

But most users will not pay the price of increased battery drain to help others locate their Apple device.

So Apple decides to make the feature opt-out, otherwise very few would actually enable the feature.


If people were that reluctant to switch a feature on, it is not a feature people want.


Isn't it more likely that 90%+ of people leave their devices on factory settings and don't want/care to understand or change them? I'd guess if you asked most of those people whether they'd want to be more likely to find their lost devices they'd answer yes, but you'd still have a tough time convincing many of them to actually go into settings to change anything


My AirTags, via the Find My app are draining my iPad’s battery. It’s very annoying.


Maybe an update would help? I haven't had any problem with Find My on my iPad draining the battery, and we have a half dozen AirTags. But, I also have auto update turned on for iOS.


I’ve updated, reset, repaired…

The drain can be either slow or aggressive but it doesn’t go away.


It's an energy vampire.


Does having more airtags around cause the battery to drain faster? It would be absolutely hilarious to walk around with a pocket full of airtags and be a legit iphone energy vampire.


That reminds me of the guy who walked around with an absurd of phones on google maps to trick its traffic algorithm.


I'm still waiting for Apple to mail me the check for my participation in the network. /s

Seriously, in what world is it reasonable that tech companies think they can come along and be like "Oh hey, you know that THOUSAND dollar phone we sold you? Oh, well we're going to stick some of our own software on it so we can use it as infrastructure for a totally different product that we sell."


you can disable it.


I was under the impression that having Bluetooth enabled at all was a security risk. Do people actually use Bluetooth?


Depends on your threat model. Generally probably not, but there's always a risk, and network stacks are not becoming simpler. There are disclosure risks - bluetooth trackers are common in retail stores.

I disable Bluetooth on almost everything, not so much for "security" as because I don't need it, so there's no reason for it. I don't like things in my ears, so it is of no benefit to me on my phone, and I don't feel a burning desire to provide real-world unique identifiers to in-store surveillance, so I don't.

I also don't use a wireless keyboard or other toys like that, so my other machines don't need it either.

Last use I had for Bluetooth was getting data from a battery charger. That lasted long enough for me to discover I didn't care about the data.


This seems like a very out of touch question. Bluetooth is ubiquitous. Flagship smartphones can't even listen to headphones without bluetooth. Smartwatches use bluetooth. Hell, my herbal vaporizer has a BLE connection for setting the temperature and checking battery.


The reason I ask is because I find Bluetooth to be a detractor from every product you mentioned. I would consider not using them because they use Bluetooth.


It's popular. But I keep it disabled as much as possible.

Cables are more reliable, dont disconnect, dont have delays or hiccups and require no battery.


Apple makes an effort to keep bluetooth and wifi always-on by requiring the user to go into settings to turn the settings off. The control center (quick setting toggles) does not fully turn off wifi nor bluetooth. If either is toggled off, the phone turns both on automatically back around midnight. The iphone also can connect to devices like airpods via bluetooth while being in the 'pretend off' state.


Apple along has sold over well over 100 million AirPods, and there's a large market of other Bluetooth accessories. So, yes, Bluetooth is a very widely used popular wireless technology.

I'm typing this on a Bluetooth keyboard, while wearing an Bluetooth-connected Watch. Apple's Handoff and Continuity features across devices are of great benefit to me every day.


First thing I disable on any device.


Misleading headline. It's not just devices close by. It's devices paired with airtags.


If you are enrolled with the find my device service, your device is communicating to all airtags in range.

It's the foundation of how the system works.


Steve Jobs vision for the original iPhone was to only have mesh networking to connect you to the internet and keep mobile carriers out. Looks like someone picked that up once enough iDevices had been sold.


So this is the reason my phone doesn't last the whole day anymore. The phenomenon just happened overnight and I can't find the culprit app.


They keep turning Bluetooth back on with every update, so you can't even avoid this if you don't use Bluetooth unless you're vigilant.


This seems annoying, especially as you don't get to control whether other people nearby have AirTags.

OTOH you could use it to detect stealthy fake AirTags? :D


There could be a DoS attack vector - presumably a BLE-enabled microcontroller could technically emulate an infinite number of AirTags and drain the battery even more if not cause more serious problems. I wonder how quickly this would be fixed if someone were to sprinkle a few such microcontrollers around Apple Stores or offices.


Someone already reversed the exact protocol and proof of concepted a arduino (or pi?) device that could happily use the network and would roll the keys regardless of whether it was in the owners vicinity, defeating the anti-tracking stuff.

Of course at that point you’ve probably spent more than regular gps stalkerware


You are possibly at risk of Apple detecting this and locking your account. But at some point, if the attacker is determined enough to build custom hardware like this, there is not a lot you can do. None of the competitors managed any better or even got close to the protections Apple provided.

At some point we need to put the burden on law enforcement. It's impossible to make abuse of technology impossible but we can criminalize misuse.


All wireless protocols can be fairly trivially DoS'ed, due to the nature of finite bandwidth and power limits.


However, do most wireless protocols cause listening devices to start using significantly more CPU and thus battery power? I'd expect DoS in most authenticated protocols to be impossible and essentially rejected at the hardware level (just like interference would be) with very minimal power impact.


I guess we need a new term for “power consumption” DoS


You can disable the Find My network, which is a separate option/setting from Find My for your specific device(s).

It's found under your iCloud Settings > Find My

The only major caveat to disabling it on your devices is it removes the ability for those devices to be located when they're turned off.


Apple should separate the settings for FindMy the device / FindMy other devices.


AFAIK they are separate already. They are separate toggles on the configuration screen.


I have not heard one positive bit of feedback about these things. Maybe I'd have to talk to a stalker.


I suggest doing a quick search on “airtag found stolen X” where X is small valuable item that a person might want back.


Airtags are fucking terrible anyway. Great idea, awful execution.

Why do my car keys have to start beeping every couple of hours?


Wow, now I know why my car's remote key ran out of battery so soon! This is absurd.


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