Google’s answer to Apple AirTags could be in the works, according to a brand new rumor from Twitter leaker Kuba Wojciechowski.
The tipster claims Google is developing a “smart tracker similar to Apple’s AirTag” under the code name 'Grogu' — the adorable green alien formerly known as Baby Yoda see in The Mandalorian series.
Details are scarce, though Kuba notes that they recently discovered Google was working on fast pair support for tracking fobs. Now it sounds like the company could be taking things one step further.
Google is working on a smart tracker similar to Apple's AirTag, codename "grogu" - report 🧵👇 pic.twitter.com/8K6KO7tfzjJanuary 16, 2023
There’s no shortage of trackers that are compatible with Android phones. Products from the likes of Tile and Chipolo have been around for years, letting Android users keep better track of their keys and other stuff that’s easy to lose. However, those products are tied to a companion app, limiting their effectiveness if you lose something beyond the range of your own phone.
Meanwhile Apple AirTags have the benefit of automatically pinging from every iPhone or iPad that comes within range — regardless of whether the owner has a specific app installed or not. If Google can offer the same sort of functionality, but built into the Android system, we hope it could offer Android users a similar experience.
Even if iPhones are now outselling Android phones in the United States, there are a lot of Android phones out there. Enabling each one to ping lost trackers is going to far outmatch what third-party tracker companies can hope to offer.
Of course, there are going to be some downsides to this hypothetical scenario. The main one being the issue of stalking, a problem that has plagued AirTags since day one. Google would have to learn from Apple’s mistakes and ensure that Android phones can detect Grogu trackers easily and without any previous user input.
Automatic detection for AirTags and other trackers should also be included from day one as well, since Apple doesn’t seem interested in taking proper action. Google promised it was working on some tracker detecting features last March, but everything has been quiet since. Hopefully, it’s something we’ll see when Android 14 launches later this year.
The other issue is that any system-level Android feature is slow to roll out, and tracker detection is no exception. Unlike Apple, which retains total control over iPhone software updates, Google only has control over the Google Pixel range. Updates for other phones are the responsibility of their respective manufacturers, who need time to get everything ready. Not to mention the fact that they often only bother with updates for 2-3 years after a phone launches.
We don’t know a great deal about what the Grogu tracker might include, though I expect that it will come with ultra wideband (UWB) and Bluetooth to aid detection and location efforts.
As to why Google chose the name Grogu, we currently don’t know. It may be something to do with the tracking fobs employed by bounty hunters in The Mandalorian, or it might have been picked at random. We’re not likely to figure it out until Google shows us what the tracker is capable of.
We don't know exactly when Google might announce the Grogu tracker either. If the device is close to launch then May’s Google I/O conference is the most likely candidate. And failing that the Google Pixel 8 launch event we’re expecting sometime in the Fall. We’ll bring you more news as and when we hear it.