We've been conducting some unscientific experiments for the past few days, basically stalking ourselves with an AirTag set up with an Apple ID other than ours. The intention was to see how easily we would be informed if anyone was following us, but we were also curious about how the mechanism for alerting us would work.
This is what we discovered after several days of tracking ourselves.
How we set it up
We created a new AirTag with an Apple ID that had nothing to do with our Apple ID. We easily set up the AirTag and registered it to the test device using a test iPhone with a test Apple ID.
We then switched off the test iPhone to ensure that it was not linked to the test AirTag at all. The explanation for this is that if the AirTag is still within the Bluetooth range of its paired iPhone, the tracking warning may never be activated, so it will be classified as "found traveling with us" rather than "found around its actual owner."
It's worth noting that the rig was put together in our house around 5 p.m. That night, we carried the AirTag around with us and put it on our nightstand. As soon as we awoke the next morning, we expected to receive a tracking warning.
Notification: AirTag found traveling with you
We woke up about 12-13 hours after setting up the AirTag, expecting our first alert to be on our computer, but it wasn't. We went for a walk around 6 a.m., and when we returned home, our iPhone greeted us with the following notification.
"AirTag found traveling with you."
A sound warning may or may not have followed this notice. We didn't hear it if it did. Apple deserves credit for detecting that we were being followed, but we find it strange that this notification appeared only after we returned home. And, by the way, we were able to confirm this while performing other related tests.
A word of caution
You'll be taken to the Find My app if you tap on the message shown above, where you'll get more details about what's going on. The app clearly displays a safety warning informing you that the owner of an AirTag can see your current location. The app also warns you that the AirTag could be attached to an object you're borrowing and that if it isn't anything you allowed, you should disable it.
The bottom line
Are AirTag warnings and updates perfect? Certainly not, but this is unquestionably a positive move. Given how fresh this type of product is, Apple is likely to learn as it goes and to take steps to improve the experience.
Since Apple owns the entire software/hardware/services stack, it may issue a firmware update to fix some of the issues we've posted, as well as those raised by other users. We're optimistic that, considering their inherent intent, Apple can learn a lot and take user input into account to ensure that AirTags do not infringe on people's privacy.