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Apple's stonewalling of Android's Find My Device network could end soon

iOS 17.5 beta includes code for unwanted tracker alerts, which is the missing piece of the puzzle for rollout.

Published onApril 3, 2024

chipolo one point
  • iOS 17.5 beta includes code suggesting unwanted tracker alerts are coming to iPhones soon.
  • This feature is needed to prevent Apple users from being stalked with Android-compatible Bluetooth trackers. For this reason, Google delayed the launch of Android’s Find My Device network upgrade.
  • iOS 17.5 is expected to go live in May in the stable branch.

Android’s Find My Device network is long overdue for an upgrade, and one was announced by Google at Google I/O 2023. However, that upgrade is being held up by none other than Apple, as iPhones have no way of detecting Android’s upcoming Bluetooth trackers (to prevent stalking and other malicious uses). Thankfully, we see hope on the horizon, as the latest iOS 17.5 beta includes references to unwanted tracker alerts, which in turn would allow Google to launch Android’s upgraded Find My Device network and third-party Bluetooth trackers.

9to5Mac has found evidence of anti-stalking features in the code of iOS 17.5 beta, which was released recently. Strings added to the Find My app reveal that iOS will identify tracking accessories, even when they’re not Apple or Find My certified, and it will help users disable them. Here is the code that was spotted:

This item isn’t certified on the Apple Find My network. You can disable this item and stop it from sharing its location with the owner. To do this, follow the instructions provided on a website by the manufacturer of this item.

The report notes that the feature isn’t live yet in the beta, but it could go live when iOS 17.5 rolls out in the stable branch next month. This would also give Google a good launching spot for the upgraded Find My Device network, as Google I/O 2024 is also being held in May 2024.

Currently, iOS can only detect AirTags and Find My certified Bluetooth trackers, but these wouldn’t cover the impending Bluetooth trackers from Chipolo, Eufy, Pebblebee, and others specifically targeting Android users on the upgraded Find My Device network. Had Google released the Find My Device network upgrade, and then OEMs released their Bluetooth trackers, this would have created a situation where Android-compatible trackers could have been used to silently stalk iOS users. The ability to detect unwanted trackers will protect iOS users from such nefarious moves. It would then clear the way for Android’s Find My Device network to launch without hiccups.

We hope iOS 17.5 indeed brings in this ability for iPhones, as we can’t wait to use Android-compatible trackers and the upgraded Find My Device network.

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