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Google and Apple team up, realizing location trackers are a big problem

Location tracker stalking is a problem, and both companies know it. But what should they do?

Published onMay 2, 2023

Apple AirTag in hand
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • Google and Apple have partnered to create a draft specification related to notifications of unwanted tracking through Bluetooth trackers.
  • The companies want a universal notification system on both iOS and Android that alerts users if they’re being tracked.
  • Both organizations are also looking to other industry thought leaders and charitable organizations for help and feedback on the specification.

Although Tile was the first major player in the Bluetooth tracker industry, Apple’s AirTag has taken the world by storm. Users can locate the small, relatively inexpensive device wherever it might be. With a tracker, it’s possible you’ll never lose your keys, purse, wallet, or phone again.

However, Bluetooth trackers can also be used to track people. Sometimes, these people might not know they’re being tracked. This is a huge issue, and both Google and Apple have announced a partnership to help combat this problem.

Today, the companies released a joint letter announcing the creation of a draft specification related to this issue. Essentially, this announcement acts as a letter of intent. The two companies want there to be universal standards across the industry for any company that is creating or wants to create Bluetooth trackers. Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee have all announced support of the idea.

The most important aspect of this draft specification would be an alert system that works across both iOS and Android. This system would alert you if you were possibly being tracked by a Bluetooth tracker, regardless of which company made that tracker. In other words, if you had an Android phone and were being followed by an AirTag, your phone would alert you.

Although Google and Apple are the main force behind this letter, only Apple has a commercially available Bluetooth tracker. Rumors suggest Google has its own tracker in the works. Codenamed “grogu” (aka, “Baby Yoda”), the tracker might land commercially as the Nest Locator Tag at some point this year.

In the meantime, Google and Apple are looking to industry leaders and charitable organizations for help in creating this specification. So far, the National Network to End Domestic Violence has already expressed support. This is a big deal, as domestic violence victims are at serious risk for tracking by their abusers, even when they’ve managed to escape.

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