iOS 17.5 just launched with a huge security feature for your iPhone

Apple iPhone 15 Plus and Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max seen from the back.
Apple iPhone 15 Plus (left) and Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Apple has just released the iOS 17.5 update for iPhones, which brings a host of new features. For European Union residents, it enables Web Distribution, which means you can sideload apps from the internet and won’t be limited to the App Store.

Another notable addition is Repair State, which allows users to keep the Find My tracking system enabled when sending in a device for repairs. For iPhone users across the world, the latest update brings an offline mode to the Apple News+ app, allowing users access to the News+ tab and the Today feed even when they are not connected to the internet.

But the most notable addition is support for Cross-Platform Tracking Detection notifications. This crucial safety feature automatically detects if an unknown tracker is traveling with you, nearby.

An AirTag sitting next to an iPhone.
Apple

So far, Apple has only enabled this system for AirTags, following reports of stalking that employed hidden AirTags. In some scenarios, Apple’s object tracker was also used for car thefts, among other criminal behavior.

“Cross-Platform Tracking Detection delivers notifications to users if a compatible Bluetooth tracker they do not own is moving with them, regardless of what operating system the device is paired with,” according to the iOS 17.5 release note.

This safety feature is part of a collaborative effort between Google and Apple. In 2023, the two companies released a draft specification on a detection protocol for Bluetooth-based trackers to prevent abusive use.

An AirTag attached on a keyring
Digital Trends

Dubbed the Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers, the proposals put the Bluetooth protocol at the center for altering users about unknown Bluetooth-based devices moving with them. Thanks to the unified approach, iPhones will be able to detect AirTags as well as trackers from other brands, such as Samsung and Tile, to name a few.

The protocol is not limited to Bluetooth-based trackers only. Instead, it also leaves the doors open for GPS-based devices and those harnessing other media like Wi-Fi and cellular lines, among others.

In the wake of widespread concerns, Apple made some tweaks to the alert system for AirTags, but it wasn’t a fool-proof method. With iOS 17.5 bringing support for a standardized Bluetooth tracker protocol, iPhone users no longer have to worry about hidden trackers from an obscure brand.

To download iOS 17.5 on your iPhone now, open the Settings app, tap General, and then tap Software Update. Wait a couple of seconds, and the iOS 17.5 update should be there waiting for you.

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