Stalkers beware! Google just launched new tracking feature over AirTag misuse | Tech News

Stalkers beware! Google just launched new tracking feature over AirTag misuse

Google introduces a safety feature to alert Android users about potential stalking risks from unfamiliar Bluetooth trackers like AirTags.

| Updated on: Jul 28 2023, 13:36 IST
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Google's new safety feature will protect Android users from unknown AirTags, and other trackers, being misused by stalkers. (Unsplash)

In a bid to enhance user safety, Google recently unveiled an innovative feature aimed at alerting Android users about potential stalking threats posed by unfamiliar Bluetooth trackers, particularly AirTags. Many cases have shown that stalkers are misusing trackers like AirTags to stalk their victims.

Starting today, Android smartphones will automatically issue alerts when an unknown Bluetooth tracker is detected in close proximity to the device owner. If the tracker appears to be traveling with the user, a notification will be triggered, allowing users to view the last known location of the tracker on a map. Additionally, a "Play sound" option will enable the user to make the tracker emit a sound, aiding in its discovery, according to a MacRumors report.

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In-Depth Information and Manual Scan Option

Google's safety feature goes further by providing relevant information about the tracker, such as its serial number or the last four digits of the registered owner's phone number. Moreover, users will be guided on how to physically disable the tracker. For those who prefer manual scanning, the Safety & Emergency section in the Settings app on compatible Android devices offers this functionality.

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Currently, the unknown tracker alerts are specifically designed for Apple's AirTags, but Google is actively working on expanding the support to include other trackers like those from Tile.

AirTags, upon their release, faced concerns related to potential stalking incidents. To mitigate this issue, Apple introduced an anti-stalking function for iPhones, which notifies users about unknown AirTags in their vicinity. Unfortunately, Android users were left vulnerable, unless they knew about and downloaded Apple's Android-based "Tracker Detect" app.

The lack of an easy way for Android users to detect stalking AirTags has been a longstanding criticism, but with Google's latest safety feature, compatible Android devices can now identify nearby AirTags without requiring users to install a separate app.

Collaborative Efforts for Safer Tracking

Earlier this year, Google and Apple collaborated to propose an industry specification to combat the misuse of Bluetooth item trackers for stalking purposes. This joint effort enables Android and iOS devices to detect nearby Bluetooth devices and issue alerts for third-party trackers.

Google plans to include native support for third-party Bluetooth tracking accessories, such as Tile and Chipolo, on Android devices. However, the rollout has been temporarily postponed to align with Apple's development of the cross-platform unwanted tracker alert specification.

Prominent companies in the Bluetooth-based tracking device market, including Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, Eufy, and Pebblebee, have expressed their support for this joint specification.

The production implementation of the unwanted tracking alerts specification is expected to be available by the end of 2023 and will be incorporated into future versions of iOS and Android, ensuring enhanced user safety across both platforms.

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First Published Date: 28 Jul, 12:44 IST