Despite the many advantages of Apple AirTag, concerns regarding its potential misuse for stalking individuals have emerged. In response to these concerns, Apple implemented various measures to address the issue. Now, Google has also stepped in to introduce additional features for Android users, which were announced at Google I/O 2023 and are currently available.
One of the new features is called “Alerts for Unknown Tracking Devices.” When an Android users on device detects an unknown Bluetooth tracker nearby, the user will receive an alert. By tapping on the notification, users can access more information about the tracker and even view its movements on a map while it remains in close proximity. Moreover, users have the option to discreetly play a sound from the tracker to help locate it without alerting its owner.
Upon receiving an alert, users can obtain further details about the unknown Bluetooth tracker and receive guidance on the appropriate next steps. For instance, some Bluetooth trackers may reveal their serial numbers or provide information about their owners, such as the last four digits of their phone number, when brought close to the user’s phone. This information can help users determine whether the tracker is being used maliciously for stalking or if it was simply accidentally left behind.
Google has also introduced the “Manual Scan” option, which can be accessed through Settings → Safety & Emergency → Unknown Tracker Alerts. By tapping the “Scan Now” button, users can initiate a 10-second manual scan, generating a list of nearby trackers that are currently separated from their owner’s device. Users can select a listed tracker to receive further guidance on the appropriate actions to take. This new feature is compatible with Android devices running version 6.0 and later.
With these new additions, Google aims to prioritize user safety and provide users with more control over potential tracking devices in their vicinity. These measures aim to address the concerns surrounding the use of tracking devices for stalking purposes and offer enhanced security and peace of mind for Android users.