The Verge's Josh Lowensohn has recently been partaking in a time-honored Internet technology tradition—light trolling. His method of choice? AirDrop, Apple's wireless file-sharing technology that allows you to send just about anything to iPhones, iPads, and Macs.
Each day I get on the train to make the half hour voyage into San Francisco for work, I am surrounded by people using their phones. Many have iPhones or iPads, and have a setting turned on that lets me send them unsolicited files through AirDrop. Where Apple envisioned it as a way to send useful files and websites to friends and acquaintances, I use it to send photos of sloths to strangers. And not just any sloths, but sloths wearing spacesuits.
You see, when enabled, Apple's AirDrop service has two different security settings within Control Center: Contacts Only, or Everyone. Select "Contacts Only," and only those iCloud users who have your iCloud account linked in their Contacts app (and vice versa) will be able to send you files. Select "Everyone," however, and your little AirDrop bubble will pop up as an option to anyone in the surrounding area.
All those people getting notifications about space sloths in Josh's general vicinity? They simply made the unwitting mistake of keeping their iOS device tuned to "Everyone."
Before anyone gets panicky about security, I should note that setting your AirDrop preferences to "Everyone" doesn't mean that those files will accept automatically—merely that you can receive a request to be sent a file from anyone with a Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
That said, should you want to avoid such a cute interruption to your day—or other troublemakers aiming to send not-so-cute images your way—you need only switch AirDrop to the "Off" or "Contacts Only" position.