Apple AirTag Anti-Stalking Features + New Siri Voice Land in iOS 15.4 Beta 4

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It’s unusual to see new features show up in later betas for an iOS point release, but that seems to be the case with today’s fourth beta update to iOS 15.4, which manages to pack in a couple of small surprises.

We already know from the very first beta that iOS 15.4 will deliver significantly improved support for using Face ID while wearing a mask, to the point that you’ll even be able to use it for things like Apple Pay and logging into secure apps. However, it looks like Apple isn’t though with iOS 15.4 quite yet.

While this may not come as a big surprise, considering that Apple announced it earlier this month, the latest beta does add the promised anti-stalking features for AirTags, which include new warning messages and improved notifications.

AirTag Safety

Right from the moment you set up an AirTag, Apple wants to make it absolutely clear that it won’t stand for abuse of its tracking tags by folks looking for a cheap and easy way to invade the privacy of others.

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It starts with a new information screen that reminds users that their AirTag is linked to their Apple ID, that tracking people without their consent is a crime, and Apple will cooperate with law enforcement to identify the owner of an AirTag used for this purpose.

AirTag is intended solely to track items that belong to you.

Using AirTag to track people without their consent is a crime in many regions around the world.

AirTag is designed to be detected by victims and to enable law enforcement to request identifying information about the owner.

Translation: Don’t misuse an AirTag for illegal tracking. Apple knows who you are. You will be hunted down and charged with a crime.

Apple also promised to improve alerts so that they correctly identify unknown AirPods, rather than simply showing a scarier “Unknown Accessory Detected” alert. This should help people feel more at ease, since it’s not likely that an actual stalker would plant their AirPods Max on someone.

There’s one other AirTag surprise in this most recent iOS 15.4 beta: customizable notifications.

A new section in the Find My app lets you adjust notifications separately for both the Find My and Tracking aspects of AirTag. The first option is for those alerts relevant to AirTags or other Find My network devices that you own, while the second is to let you choose how you want to be alerted when an unknown AirTag (or other Find My network item) is found moving around with you.

While you’ll initially need to open the Tracking Notifications from the Find My app, once you’ve done this the first time, it will appear with the rest of your normal app notifications in the main iPhone Settings app, where it can be found under “Tracking Notifications.”

Hey Siri, Say Hello to ‘Quinn’

iOS 15.4 is also introducing another new Siri voice, for the first time since iOS 14.5 last expanded the chorus a year ago.

The iOS 14.5 Siri update was a much bigger one, to be fair, since it also represented Apple’s push towards diversity and inclusion. That was the first iOS release to allow users to pick their Siri voice during set up, rather than defaulting to the age-old female-sounding version, while also moving away from gendered labels, and offering more gender-neutral voice options.

Today’s iOS 15.4 beta introduces a fifth voice, and while it’s only labelled as “Voice 5” in the Settings app, developer Steve Moser has taken a deep dive into the code to discover that its name is Quinn.

As of now, this fifth voice appears to be limited to the U.S., although anyone can check it out if you’re willing to change your iPhone’s Regional Settings to “United States.”

It’s actually sort of interesting that the nearly palindromic iOS 14.5 and iOS 15.4 have so much in common. In addition to two new Siri voices, the winter/spring 2021 release of iOS 14.5 also introduced the ability to use an Apple Watch to unlock an iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask, as well as the last big batch of new emoji.

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