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As rivals in the mobile phone space, it’s not everyday you see internet search giant Google and iPhone maker Apple working together. The last time that happened in a major way was when both companies were working on a COVID-19 contact tracing tech. Now, they are working together again, but this time it is to fight tech-enabled stalking, done via Bluetooth trackers like the latter’s AirTags.

In a statement, Apple says that it and Google have “jointly submitted a proposed industry specification to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices for unwanted tracking”. The short version is basically tech that allows both iOS and Android devices to detect all manner of Bluetooth tracking devices to prevent stalking.

Apple AirTag
Source: Apple.

It’s a welcome move, even if it took some time to get to this point. After all, it did take Apple over half a year to release an app that allowed Android devices to locate its AirTags. With that in mind, it’s by no means a novel idea, but at least with this joint proposal, user safety is not being sidelined in the name of proprietary tech. The release also mentions other major tracker manufacturers like Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee have expressed support for the proposed standard.

tracker detect apple airtags find my
Source: Apple.

But while this would make newer products from these names more anti-stalker, chances are it will remain a problem for not only older products, but also those made by smaller, less well known Bluetooth tracker makers. After all, part of the standard makes it so that the trackers need to make a noise when it is following someone that’s not the registered owner. But there have been instances of AirTags having their speakers disabled. On the subject of the AirTags, this anti-stalking measure was added after release via an update, so the more affordable ones without OTA update capabilities may remain an issue.


(Source: Apple, IETF, PCMag)

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