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Reports that Apple’s iPhone NameDrop feature is dangerous are utter BS

Published Nov 29th, 2023 6:31AM EST
NameDrop iOS 17
Image: Apple Inc.

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Over the past few days, several police departments started sharing an “important privacy update” for iPhone users due to Apple’s new NameDrop feature. Over Facebook, the warning was shared a few thousand times, with comments thanking the police departments for bringing their attention to this matter… except for the fact that they misunderstood how NameDrop works.

The standard message shared by several police departments read:

IMPORTANT PRIVACY UPDATE:

If you have an iPhone and have done the recent iOS 17 update, they have set a new feature called NameDrop defaulted to ON. This feature allows the sharing of your contact info just by bringing your phones close together. While you do need to accept the transfer, if you would prefer to shut this off go to: Settings, General, AirDrop, Bringing Devices Together. Change to OFF.

PARENTS: You may consider changing these settings after the update on your children’s phones, also, to help keep them safe as well!

Basically, the police departments are implying that NameDrop automatically shares your contact information with anyone who brings their iPhone near to yours. But this is not exactly how it goes. Ultimately, a part of this message was edited to reflect the misunderstanding:

(…) This feature allows the sharing of your contact info just by bringing your phones close together. While you do need to accept the transfer, if you would prefer to shut this off go to: Settings, General, AirDrop, Bringing Devices Together. Change to OFF.

NameDrop is one of the main features of iOS 17, released in September. Then, in October, Cupertino expanded this function by enabling you to share your information from an Apple Watch to an iPhone – and vice versa.

What does NameDrop really do?

When you bring two iPhones together, an animation shows they are paired. With that, you can share your contact information (but you expressively need to choose to send it). In addition, connecting both phones also improves AirDrop reliability if you’re in a crowded place or want to quickly start SharePlay session.

That said, although the warning is somewhat helpful, the user must agree to share their contact information – Apple won’t just share your data.

In addition, Apple has worked hard to bring other features to protect user’s and children’s privacy. So, parents, don’t worry about NameDrop, as it won’t give sensitive information to others. On the other hand, I’d say you should try this feature at home, as you can fill your Contacts app with all the data that matters with family members and friends.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.

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