Back in May, Google and Apple jointly announced that they were teaming up to prevent unwanted tracking through AirTags and similar devices. Today, Google is announcing that the rollout of unknown tracker alerts is now beginning on devices running Android 6.0 and later. Right now, this only works with AirTags, but Google says it’s working with tag manufacturers to expand this protection to other tracking tags over time.
Here’s how it works. If an unknown Bluetooth tracker is separated from its owner and determined to be traveling with you, you will be notified on your Android device. If you tap the notification you can learn more about the tracker and view a map of where it was seen traveling with you. There’s also a “play sound” option that will make the tracker make a noise so that you can locate it without the owner of the tracker knowing.
Additionally, when you bring the tracker near the back of your phone, it might share its serial number or more information about its owner, like the last four digits of their phone number. You can also learn how to disable the tracker completely, so it will stop the owner from receiving any future location updates from it.
This is all meant to prevent stalking by using AirTags and AirTag-like trackers, and it seems to be a very good step in the right direction. Google also built a manual scan feature that lets you check your surroundings for trackers without having to wait for an alert.
To manually search, you need to go to Settings> Safety & emergency> Unknown tracker alerts and tap the Scan now button on your Android device. The scan will take about 10 seconds.
Finally, Google announced that it’s holding the rollout of its Find My Device network until Apple implements similar protections in iOS. The company says the joint unwanted tracker alert specification should be finalized by the end of this year, after which the Find My Device network will be made live.