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Apple and Google launch unwanted location tracking detection for iPhone and Android

Apple AirTag
Source: Apple

iPhone's latest software update iOS 17.5 is now available to download, and with it, comes the ability to warn you about unwanted location trackers you don't own traveling with you. Apple and Google joined hands to develop an industry specification that allows Android and iOS devices to help prevent misuse of Bluetooth-based location trackers.

The specification titled "Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers" makes it possible to notify users across Android and iOS if a Bluetooth-enabled tracker is being used to track them without their knowledge.

Apple announced in a blog post that it is "implementing this capability in iOS 17.5, and Google is now launching this capability on Android 6.0+ devices." The Cupertino giant will continue working with Google to develop an official standard for this technology.

An alert about an unwanted tracking device could look like, "[Item] Found Moving With You."

These tracking notifications can work regardless of the operating system the tracking device is paired with. In other words, an iPhone can show alerts about a Bluetooth tracker paired with an Android device, view the tracker's identifier, play sound to locate it, and access instructions to disable it, if required.

It works with AirTags, Find My network accessories and third-party Bluetooth trackers that support the specification. Bluetooth tag manufacturers, including Pebblebee, Motorola, Jio, eufy, and Chipolo have assured that their future tags will be compatible with the specification.

The roots of the tracking notifications feature lie in the early days of Apple's AirTag when bad actors used it to steal cars and stalk people, including Android users. The situation escalated to the point that Apple had to bake unwanted accessory detection into its software and launch an anti-stalking app for Android.

Google's Find My Device network, launched in the US and Canada earlier this year, was officially delayed to allow Apple to include unwanted tracking detection into its software.

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