Among the many new features coming in iOS 13 is a revamped version of Apple’s people-and-device finding apps, unifying “Find My iPhone” and “Find My Friends” into a single app called Find My.
Awkward dangling participles aside, the new Find My app promises to not only allow you to find your friends and family members and Apple devices all in one place, but is also reportedly laying the groundwork for an Apple-made Tile-like tracking device that would allow any number of everyday objects to be located by a crowdsourced army of iPhones, iPads, and Macs located around the world.
As part of the new unified Find My app, however, it would also appear that Apple is tightening the security around the app to make sure that your friends actually know when you’re tracking them.
One of the great features of Apple’s original Find My Friends app was not only the ability to pull up a location of your friends at any time, but to also actually set up notifications so you could tell when they’ve moved away from their current location, arrived at a new one, or are near your current location. This provided a handy “set-and-forget” feature when you were waiting for somebody, or when you simply wanted to know when your partner, kids, or roommate arrived home.
In the past, however, setting up these notifications was done silently, without the other person knowing that you had done so. The logic here seemed simple enough — the entire Find My Friends ecosystem is opt-in and you can’t track anybody unless they’ve already explicitly given you permission to do so, and there’s arguably not much difference between being able to manually look at your friends’ locations any time you like and asking the system to notify you when their locations change.
iOS 13 Will Tell You When You’re Being Tracked
It is fair to say, however, that some might consider this kind of active monitoring to be a more invasive form of tracking — something that might even border on stalking (although of course you’ve given your “stalker” permission to track you in the first place). With iOS 13 it seems that Apple agrees with this perspective, and has decided that there is enough of a difference that users should be proactively notified when somebody else decides to actively track them through a location reminder.
The new implementation is fairly transparent on both ends — when setting up a location notification for one of your contacts in the new Find My app, you’ll now be shown a warning that the target will be notified and asked to confirm whether you would like to proceed.
If you choose to save the notification, the target will get an immediate push notification from the Find My app, not only telling them that you’re now tracking them, but also telling them exactly how. Note that they only get told when you first set the notification; they won’t get another notification when it actually fires off.
Note that this only happens right now if both devices are on iOS 13 and therefore using the new Find My app. If the person you’re tracking is still running iOS 12, with or without Find My Friends installed, you’ll still be told that they’ll get a notification but nothing will actually show up on their iPhone or iPad. Once the public release lands later this year, however, some Find My users may want to be more conscientious about how often they’re setting up location triggers for friends and family.