AirTags are excellent for tracking the location of items, from water bottles to cars, but they are also sometimes used to illegally track people. Google and Apple just announced the first step towards addressing the problem.
Apple and Google have partnered to submit a potential industry specification to “help combat the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices for unwanted tracking.” The goal is for Bluetooth-based trackers to show alerts and block unauthorized tracking across Android phones, iPhones, and other devices. Google doesn’t sell any of its own Bluetooth trackers right now, but Apple says AirTags will be supported, and companies like Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee have “expressed support” for the draft.
Hiding an AirTag in someone’s belongings, such as their backpack or car, and then checking the location of the tag to track the person’s whereabouts is increasingly common. Apple has tried to add some safeguards, but they’re not entirely effective — the AirTag is supposed to start beeping when it’s away from its owner for too long, but some people rip the speaker out before using it to track people. iPhones can display alerts when they detect an unknown AirTag moving with you, but that doesn’t work for people with Android phones (or no smartphone at all). Apple released a “Tracker Detect” app for Android devices in 2021, but it can only scan for tracking devices if you have the app open.
It’s great to see a cross-platform solution to unauthorized Bluetooth tracking, but this is ultimately Apple trying to fix a problem it created, two years late. Bluetooth trackers existed before AirTags, but none of them have a network as widespread as Apple’s “Find My” Network. We’ll have to wait and see how long it takes for the draft standard to become a functional service.
Source: Apple Newsroom