Google could kill AirTag stalking in Android — here's how

Apple AirTag
(Image credit: Future)

Google may be giving Android the ability to detect Apple AirTags and other Bluetooth trackers by default, and without downloading any other apps.

9to5Google examined code found within the latest version of Google Play Services and found evidence of Google seemingly working on a detection system for trackers. Specifically, it found references to “Unfamiliar device alerts” and  “Unfamiliar Tag Detected Notification” features, as well as mentions of "Tile tag" and "ATag," which sound like specific identifiers for Tile trackers and Apple AirTags

Beyond these notifications, another string of code suggests that users will be able to ring the tag too to help them figure out its precise location.

Having this ability enabled by default in Android itself would make it much easier to find errant tags, and bring some welcome peace of mind to users. AirTag safety is a widespread concern right now because it's been proven to easily to track people without their knowledge with the tag.

Apple has made changes with the new iOS 15.4 update that makes it easier to find errant AirTags, but that doesn't help out Android users. Instead it offers the Tracker Detect Android app that allows users to scan for AirTags nearby. And Tile has done something similar with its Scan and Secure feature, which can be used on the Tile app even without an account. 

However, both of these only work when activated manually rather than continuously in the background, and the Tile version requires you to move locations as you scan.

Google could still be some way off making this feature live, or it may decide to drop the idea entirely. However, with Android 13 due to launch in a couple of months, we'll be keeping a close eye on if it features a Google-made answer to the problem of unwanted tracking.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.