Apple, Google Phone Update Can Detect Location Tracking

The companies are rolling out a new update to their phones that allows users to detect if someone is tracking their device

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

May 16, 2024

2 Min Read
A close up of an Apple Air Tag

Apple and Google have announced a new update for their phones that will alert users if they are being tracked by a nearby Bluetooth device.

The new industry specification, Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers, will be made available on iPhones and Androids to protect users from unwanted surveillance.

The move aims to mitigate personal device tag vulnerabilities, such as Apple’s AirTag, which are used to track users’ belongings. Bad actors can piggyback on these devices and use them to gain access to people’s location.

With the update, users will get an “[item] found moving with you” alert on their device, which they can click on to view the tracker’s identifier, have a sound played from the tracker device to help locate it and receive instructions on how to disable it.

Bluetooth tag manufacturers, including Chipolo, eufy, Jio, Motorola and Pebblebee, have agreed to make future tag designs compatible with the update.

“AirTag and third-party Find My Network accessories were designed from the beginning with industry-first privacy and safety protections and Apple has remained committed to innovating and supplementing these protections to keep consumers safe,” Apple stated.

“This cross-platform collaboration — also an industry first, involving community and industry input — offers instructions and best practices for manufacturers, should they choose to build unwanted tracking alert capabilities into their products.” 

Related:Apple, Google Partner to Curb Unwanted Bluetooth Tracking

Plans for the tech were first announced last May, with Google and Apple saying they sought advice from safety and advocacy groups – such as domestic violence groups – in drafting the specification.

Apple and Google said they would continue working to create an official standard for the tech, working alongside the Internet Engineering Task Force. 

While the official standard is not yet ready, both companies are rolling out the feature on the next iterations of their operating systems, including Apple’s iOS 17.5 and Android devices with version 6.0 or newer.

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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