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Apple’s biggest scandal of 2022 is already happening – TechCrunch

Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review!

I’ve taken the last few weeks to unwind and ensure that my 2022 hot takes are as scorching as possible, or at least as prescient as possible. This week, we’re talking about what I’m sure could be one of Apple’s biggest scandals of the decade thus far: the itty bitty AirTag.

You can get this in your inbox every Saturday morning from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.

(Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

the big thing

AirTags are a very useful product from Apple that pretty much function exactly as advertised.

Unfortunately, that’s the problem.

There’s been a fair bit of controversy lately around how Apple rolled these out and how even though these are great devices to keep track of your keys, they can also easily be abused to stalk someone. This isn’t a purely theoretical issue either, it’s already happening. 

It’s not a particularly unique scenario where technology can be used for good and bad purposes — just think about the decades-long conversation around encryption — that said, I have a feeling that this is a scenario where Apple is going to lose and it’s going to be more embarrassing than any misstep in recent memory.

Apple has arranged so much of their wearable product marketing over the last few years on how their devices function in edge use cases. The Apple Watch’s last several generations have focused on health tracking features that could help identify rare conditions or help users in a life-threatening situation. TV commercials have documented the individual stories of users who have found the Apple Watch to be a life-saving tool. With AirTags, there’s potential for some of that same good, but there’s also much more downside. In the next year, we’re undoubtedly going to see examples of AirTags being used in nefarious ways that bundled together serve as the antithesis of one of these Apple Watch commercials. It may end up being a product defined by its gross shortcomings.

Image Credits: Built for Mars screengrab

Apple has made its own post-launch efforts to tighten up how AirTags that don’t belong to a certain user can be detected, but these notifications have proven buggy and have often waited far too long to alert users. Add in the fact that Apple has seemed to treat Android integration as an afterthought, not a necessary partnership in order to ship a device like this, and Apple’s incompetence looks a bit more severe.

I highly doubt that Apple is going to be able to design their way out of this problem. Regardless of what they ship on iOS to backtrack issues, Android’s fractured ecosystem means that safeguards won’t reach an awful lot of people who could be targeted.

For a nascent product category with such PR liability potential, it’s hard to see how Apple justifies continuing to sell AirTags. It’s a unique error from Apple in that the company delivered exactly what they initially promised but failed to consider the full scope of that initial promise’s direct consequences.

Elizabeth Holmes at Theranos Trial

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

other things

Here are a few stories this week I think you should take a closer look at:

Elizabeth Holmes convicted on 4 of 11 counts
At long last, the trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes reached a resolution. Now, we wait for sentencing as well as further guidance on whether Holmes will be retried for several of the counts that the jury could not reach a verdict on. “Holmes was found guilty of conspiring to defraud investors, as well as defrauding investors from the DeVos family, hedge fund manager Brian Grossman and former estate and trust attorney Dan Mosely. She was not found guilty of charges related to defrauding patients,” my colleague Amanda reported.


Read More:Apple’s biggest scandal of 2022 is already happening – TechCrunch

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