Apple and Google Join Forces Against AirTag Stalking
Apple and Google are collaborating to prevent lost item trackers, like Apple’s AirTag, from being used to track people without their consent. The tech giants are drafting a new industry standard to alert victims of unwanted trackers on Android and iOS. The industry standard will allow other lost item trackers, such as those produced by Samsung or Tile, to develop similar iPhone and Android alert features. The new features will be completed by the end of 2023 and implemented in future versions of iOS and Android.
Apple and Google recently announced that they have teamed up to prevent lost item trackers, such as Apple’s AirTag, from being used to track people without their consent. The two tech giants have joined forces to draft a new industry standard that will alert victims of unwanted trackers in Android and iOS.
Apple’s AirTag is a coin-sized device that helps users locate lost items, such as keys, by displaying the item’s near-real-time location within an iPhone app. However, since its launch in 2021, there have been numerous reports of people using the device to stalk others.
In response, Apple has incorporated detection features into iPhones that allow users to detect unfamiliar AirTags in their vicinity. According to the most recent announcement, Android phones will soon include a function to warn users when they are being followed by an AirTag.
The functions will be completed by the end of 2023, as stated by Apple and Google, and included in upcoming updates of iOS and Android. Thanks to the new industry standard, other lost item trackers like those made by Samsung or Tile will be able to design identical iPhone and Android alert features.
The Need for Collaboration
The decision by Apple and Google to collaborate on an industry standard to prevent the unwanted tracking of individuals is a step in the right direction. With the rise of lost item trackers, there has also been an increase in reports of these devices being used to stalk and harass individuals.
The situation became so alarming that Apple responded by adding a feature to iOS that alerts users if an unknown AirTag is traveling with them. The notification, which appears on the user’s iPhone, reads, “AirTag Found Moving with You.”
The notification is designed to ensure that people are aware of any AirTags that might be tracking them without their knowledge. The feature also enables users to remove the unknown AirTag from their device and disable the tracking feature.
While Apple’s response was commendable, it only addressed the problem for iPhone users. With Android being the most widely used mobile operating system globally, it was necessary to have an industry-wide solution.
The collaboration between Apple and Google is therefore timely and necessary. It will provide a standard that other lost item tracker manufacturers can follow, thereby ensuring that individuals are protected from unwanted tracking across all mobile operating systems.
How the Industry Standard Will Work
The industry standard that Apple and Google are developing will allow an AirTag or other lost item tracker to send a Bluetooth signal to nearby Android or iOS devices. The signal will alert the owner of the device that an unknown tracker is in their vicinity.
The notification will include information about the tracker, such as its serial number and other details that will help the user identify the device. The user can then decide whether they want to disable the tracking feature or remove the device entirely.
While the feature will initially be available on Android and iOS devices, other lost item tracker manufacturers can follow the industry standard and build similar features into their devices.
By the end of 2022, the industry standard is anticipated to be finished; at this point, Android and iOS will incorporate it. The collaboration between Apple and Google will ensure that both operating systems work seamlessly, providing a robust solution for all mobile users.
The Benefits of the Industry Standard
The industry standard that Apple and Google are developing is a significant step forward in protecting individuals from unwanted tracking. By developing a standard that other lost item tracker manufacturers can follow, the two companies are ensuring that individuals are protected regardless of the device they use.
The industry standard will also encourage manufacturers to produce lost item trackers that are designed with privacy in mind. Devices that are built with privacy as a priority will be less likely to be used for nefarious purposes.
Additionally, the industry standard will provide a consistent solution across all mobile operating systems.