Apple and Google released an announcement saying they will work together to lead an industry-wide initiative that would alert users in the case of unwanted tracking from Bluetooth devices. Otherwise known as AirTag stalking.
Since launching its AirTag, Apple and other tech companies have continuously attempted to prevent unwanted tracking. While designed to work as a key finder, the AirTag is a part of Apple’s “Find My” network. This means that virtually anyone could use an AirTag to track someone without their knowledge.
ABC News reported that in December of 2022, two women filed a class-action lawsuit in California, claiming the product made it easier for them to be stalked and harassed by abusers. They also reported that an Indianapolis man, Andre Smith, was allegedly killed by an ex-girlfriend who police say used an AirTag to track him down in June 2022.
Specific steps have been taken to prevent stalking, such as alerting iPhone owners if someone else’s AirTag is near them and warning users that an AirTag has been out of range of an Apple device for more than 8 hours and will start to beep to let the user locate it.
Apple and Google teamed up to make Bluetooth tracking devices safer.
The company has now tapped Google to build upon AirTag’s anti-stalking protections. Together, they have submitted a “proposed industry specification” that will recognize and then alert any device with a Bluetooth connection. Not only iPhones but if an unwanted AirTag is nearby.
“Apple launched AirTag to give users the peace of mind knowing where to find their most important items,” said Ron Huang, Apple’s vice president of Sensing and Connectivity, in a statement. He said they built AirTag and the “Find My” network with features to discourage unwanted tracking. Which he noted was “a first in the industry.”
“A critical step forward to help combat unwanted tracking”
“We continue to make improvements to help ensure the technology is being used as intended,” said Huang. “This new industry specification builds upon the AirTag protections, and through collaboration with Google results in a critical step forward to help combat unwanted tracking across iOS and Android.”
Ahead of Apple’s announcement, AirTags were highlighted along with a bit of good news. The New York Police Department was encouraging car owners to use AirTag to prevent car theft, which increased following viral videos demonstrating hot wiring Kia and Hyundai vehicles. The city said it was also distributing 500 free AirTags to car owners, donated by the nonprofit Association for a Better New York.