Bluetooth trackers such as Apple AirTags are great in helping owners keep track of their keys and other items that can otherwise slip into that void that we normally called “lost.” But, unfortunately, there’s a subset of people who want to abuse these tools and use them for sinister applications, such as tracking people without their knowledge.
To help combat possible abusive uses, starting this month, Android 6.0+ users will be getting tools to help them uncover unwanted Bluetooth trackers.
The first line of defense will consist of Android devices quietly scanning for trackers that appear to be following the user.
If tracking is suspected, the users will get a notification and be able to learn more about the tracker as well as its location on a map.
To help locate the tracker, the person being tracked will be able to make the tracker play a sound, and this will be done without the owner of the tracker being notified that a request was made.
If a tracker is found, the second line of defense is helping the users figure out who it belongs to. Holding the tracker to the Android device will bring up its serial number or information about the owner of the device, such as the last four digits of the phone number associated with the device.
Information on disabling the tracker — which, for the AirTag simply involves removing the battery — will also be provided.
Finally, users will be able to scan their vicinity for trackers that are separated from their owners.
Unknown tracker alerts on Android currently only work with Apple AirTags, but Google is keen to see this coverage widen and has created a joint industry specification and is working with other tag makers to expand this protection against rogue Bluetooth trackers.
Google says that “user safety and the prevention of unwanted location tracking is a top priority for Android.”
Google has also announced that it has been working on a “Find My Device Network” to assist users in tracking their belongings, but the rollout of this is currently on hold “until Apple has implemented protections for iOS.”