Apple tries to limit ‘inappropriate’ AirTag engravings

After many, many years of running and engraving service for iPods and other products, Apple has measures in place to try to limit “inappropriate” AirTag engravings.

AirTag is a small and elegantly designed accessory that can be personalized with free engraving, and enables iPhone users to securely locate and keep track of their valuables using the Find My app.
AirTag is a small and elegantly designed accessory that can be personalized with free engraving, and enables iPhone users to securely locate and keep track of their valuables using the Find My app.

AirTag is a small accessory that helps keep track of and find items via Apple’s Find My app. Whether attached to a handbag, keys, backpack, or other items, AirTag taps into the vast, global Find My network and can help locate a lost item, all while keeping location data private and anonymous with end-to-end encryption. AirTag can be purchased in one and four packs for just $29 and $99, respectively, and will be available beginning Friday, April 30th.

Ian Carlos Campbell for The Verge:

But before you preorder the Mentos-esque pucks, there’s something you should be aware of: if you want to engrave your AirTags, you can’t combine a horse and poop emoji in that order.

That’s right, the emoji version of “horseshit” is a no-go when getting an engraving for Apple’s newest product.

Curiously, poop and then horse (“shit horse”) is totally fine, though. Fictional horse excrement is fair game too. Despite being a horn away from being exactly the same emoji, “unicorn shit” works fine.

Similar limitations apply to actual offensive words as well. Apple gives you just enough letters for some creative diction, but catches some of the obvious offenders. “SUCK,” “NSFW,” and “BUTT” are still on the table though.

MacDailyNews Take: How insane is this?

Personalized AirTag
Personalized AirTag


    1. Normally I agree with you, Applecynic, but this time around it’s clear cut.

      Messaging services and social media is a contentious area, but physical devices are obviously something where the manufacturer has no obligation to customize it to your specific wants.

      If you were a T-shirt printer, you would likewise have the right to refuse to print obscene messages … within the law, of course. Discrimination against a customer under the guise of religiosity or whatever has been confirmed Unconstitutional. But a citizen or a company can hold up its own standards, even when offering “customizations”.

      Of course, that won’t stop the extreme right wing from whining incessantly. They fail to recognize that regulation of both corporations AND individuals, using the processes set forth in the Constitution and legal frameworks at lower levels, will always be necessary. They spent the past century giving unlimited power to corporations, and now they whine when the individual citizens are practically helpless against the actions of self-serving corporate executives who these days exhibit most of the signs of extreme psychotics. Alas, some investors are even worse. So today even if Apple and other companies play it safe, or act hypocritical, ain’t no individual with any power to stop them. Don’t bother writing your representatives— they are bankrolled by corporations, per the corrupt electoral system that the 2 dumbass infighting political parties established.

    2. Applecynic, This is not censorship as the First Amendment knows it. Apple has the right to control its own corporate message. Their desired image apparently does not include Apple-branded merchandise that comes out of the factory ready to offend people. What folks choose to do with their AirTags after they buy them is their business, but AirTags that are still in Apple’s hands are quite properly under Apple’s control. Similarly, Christian booksellers cannot control whether people write obscene messages in the books after they buy them, but they have an absolute right to refuse offensive imprint requests. It would be different if refusing these requests was targeted against a protected class of persons, but pornographers are not a protected class.

  1. Yes, the Apple that’s ever increasing its censoring and leaning towards products fitting the “generia” (new word) description. Apple is becoming the tech-curator–making choices you never wanted and limiting options because they’re messy for the company (bottom line).

    The emoji dedication and excitement (who tf gets excited about a new emoji library! Tim does.) is a sure sign of this, but Apple’s continued pop-culturing everything is the trough it’s following. Sure, there’s a Mac Pro in the line-up, but take that away and the company looks like it serves the common-denominator that’s gleefully satisfied when Apple releases a new iMac color, or a new A-Watch band. Apple is redefining the “Pro” definition. The word has been denuded, or truncated and the CEO increasingly directs more and more energy towards concerns OUTSIDE of his purview as the company leader.

    Yes, yes, I know, this stock is up under his reign, but one cannot deny the turn from the “round-peg in square-hole” paradigm to one that is directed at common denominators with wallets. It takes a long time for a company to change and Apple is well on the way to being ruled AND, most importantly, satisfied by the bottom line.

    Stock up = good. Company trajectory = questionable. F the “misfits.”

  2. Sigh. I am beyond tired of Tim-Cook-Apple-hyperbole. Very few of us need AirTags, but watch, as millennial Silicon Valley tries to invent reasons! and don’t get me started on the coattail riding of the Jobs/Ives era.

    ‘You don’t need a Mac, get an iPad pro!’, as they roll out new M1 Macs. I am pretty tired of this generation and how they have manhandled the gift of technology that was literally gift wrapped and handed to them by all of the people that did the hard work so that they could Tweet about their insignificant and privileged tinged butthurt. The day knowing basic HTML (that would be some time in the 90s), something bright seventh graders could likely comprehend, commanded six figure payouts, was the day this all went south. Were it not for Apple’s apparent commitment to privacy, i would be using a crayon, a notepad, and an old school film camera at this point, and I was a ‘fight back for the Mac’ person in the era of Power PC.

    They are driving the industry into the toilet, and eventually that course of action will bear fruit that they will not be able to ignore. Silicon Valley well and truly died as anything more than a cheap Ponzi scheme right along with Steve Jobs, and today’s participants adopted all of the wrong parts of Apple’s success. In fact, they are picking over the corpse of Gates’ and Ballmers’ 90s Microsoft for ideas, and then amplified by 1000, and that is so a$$ backward it defies the limits of human language.

    At present, anyway, nobody outside of the Bay gives two ****s about this, and when/if they do, it will only be through absolutely false digital coercion and abject greed. The past 25 years of ‘innovation’ would make the robber barons of yore blush in embarrassment.

    1. Is it censorship if you refuse to let me spray paint obscene graffiti on your front door? If not, why do you object to Apple refusing to let people inscribe obscenity on their branded products while those products are still in Apple’s control?

    1. Neither will be rejected. Inoffensive acronyms aren’t a problem. The only problem with either one of these taglines is that extremists attempt to project all kinds of inaccurate and uncivil stuff. That might get you tossed out of bar, but your Airtag will be exactly as you like it, displaying either your concerns for the downtrodden or your worship of a blowhard politician who for the most part told misleading narratives, didn’t honor any promises or speak the truth. Americans should be happy that, unlike dissidents currently dying in jail in Russia, you can go ahead and peacefully wave your airtags around.

      1. Tests, you’re absolutely correct. Manco was just attempting to stir up trouble, but he is mistaken. Apple is not going to censor BLM or MAGA. They just don’t want to print anything profane or vulgar on air tags.

          1. applecynic, now YOU are just trying to stir up trouble. I’m not sure why you’re asking ME what Apple will be willing to print on their Air Tags. I don’t work there. However, I saw someone say that Air Tag engraving is limited to 4 characters, so I think I can safely say that “Jobs was a jerk” would be rejected because it contains too many characters.

          2. You’re right. It’s not obscene. But it is more than 4 characters, which is the limit. Do you agree that “Jobs was a jerk” is more than 4 characters? Do you understand what the concept of “more than 4” is?

            1. “ They just don’t want to print anything profane or vulgar on air tags.”

              Do you understand your own writing?
              If you want to combine it with a four character limit, then I will create a Jobs is a jerk emoji, and have it struck down.

          3. I do not believe that Air Tag engravings have the option of “create your own emoji”. You would have to pick from the standard emojis that are universally available.

            1. Sadly, applecynic, you have a misunderstanding of the meaning of the word “censorship”.

              According to the dictionary on your Mac, censorship is “the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security”.

            2. Let me help you with your comprehension, which is lacking.
              You should be arguing that they have the right to censor. Post purchase, they do not.

              Now imagine MS forbidding anyone from making a font on Windows.

              Have a nice day.

  3. We are sorry to inform you Ms/Mr. Manco, but your 1st two requests cannot be fulfilled, per company policy. With aim to rectify such disappointments with your order, we’d like to offer you two replacements.

    The 1st; LGQBT
    the 2nd: a n t i f a

    Thank you for shopping with us. You’re a gem.

    1. You really ought to read the good ol’ U.S. Constitution. It says that you can’t refuse others based on their religion, sex, race, etc. You don’t have to agree to their lifestyle, but as long as they aren’t harming you, their rights are protected. Constitutionally. The world doesn’t bend to your religion.

      But you knew that.

      1. It says THE GOVERNMENT can’t do that. Also, there are many religions that are fine with marrying a ten-year-old. Do we respect that?
        – The answer is that absolute freedom for everyone is an inherently contradictory position. It can’t exist even in theory. So any system of laws has to have some moral ground that everyone has to agree upon. Freedom isn’t free. And it isn’t simple. Sometimes it is easier to take a bullet then to understand why we fight.

        1. Yes, the Constitution says that the government cannot do that, but it does not say that private parties can. The Constitution also expressly empowers Congress to legislate regarding the Fourteenth Amendment provisions concerning religious and ethnic discrimination, as well as to regulate activities that affect interstate commerce. The consistent jurisprudence under the First Amendment is that the guarantees of free speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition can only be selectively restricted if there is a compelling state interest involved and only if there is no way to serve that interest that is less intrusive. A prohibition on ripping folks’ beating hearts out of their chests serves a compelling state interest even if it adversely affects the traditional Aztec religion. Similarly with laws prohibiting polygamy, pedophilia, and genital mutilation.

          The “right” to force Apple to print obscenities on its products does not reach that level of constitutional protection.

    2. The problem is that J.T. does not understand the difference between business such as a bakery that refuses sell a cakes to certain people (which is discrimination), or a business like Apple that will sell Air Tags to anybody without discrimination, but they just won’t print swear words on them.

      1. Is that what happened with that cake business? There are some big differences. You can go to another bakery and get an identical cake – but nothing is going to be very similar to an Apple AirTag. Also, was it making the cake, or the messaging on the cake, that the bakeries were objecting to? (I tried looking it up and didn’t find the info.).

        1. Tau,

          Apple’s competitors claim that their products are not only very similar to an AirTag, but superior.

          The Colorado case never reached the merits of whether it was the cake or the decorations that was objectionable. The Supreme Court remanded the case because the Colorado Civil Rights Commission members had made comments in the course of their proceedings that indicated hostility towards religion. Governments are, of course, required to respect religious freedom by treating all parties alike and even giving deference to religious practices if there is no compelling state interest to the contrary. The 1964 Federal Civil Rights Act, as well as Colorado statutes, have declared that there is a compelling state interest in ending discrimination on the basis of sex. The Supreme Court has recently made it clear that discrimination against gay persons is sex discrimination. So, the courts have to balance those two state interests when judging on the boundary between religious and sex discrimination.

    3. Righties can’t count. 4 characters is the limit, but they want Apple to print First Then’s extended copy-paste propaganda on the damn airtags. Some people are so unreasonable, there is no point attempting to reason with them.

      A character limitation is NOT CENSORSHIP.


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