Apple and Google roll out a cross-platform feature to tackle unwanted Bluetooth trackers

Android and iOS users will receive an alert if an unknown tracker moves with them over time.

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Apple and Google's long-in-the-works effort to alert people to unwanted Bluetooth trackers that may have been planted on them has come to fruition. The companies have developed an industry standard called Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers. This makes it possible to alert someone via iOS or Android if they're being tracked with one of those devices.

When an unknown Bluetooth device is seen moving with someone over a period of time, they'll get an alert that reads “[Item] Found Moving With You," no matter which platform the tracker is paired with. Apple and Google are rolling out the capability in iOS 17.5 and across Android 6.0 and later devices starting today.

The companies announced a partnership to tackle this issue last May with backing from industry partners such as Samsung and Tile. Apple says that Chipolo, Eufy, Jio, Motorola and Pebblebee are among the companies who say that their future Bluetooth tags will work with the new standard.

Not long after Apple started selling AirTags three years ago, stories of bad actors using the devices to track people and steal cars started to emerge. Apple quickly started working on ways to make it harder for stalkers to use AirTags illicitly and it refined its approach to that over time. The company also released an Android app in late 2021 to help folks find out if an AirTag had been planted on them, but the new approach will take an OS-level approach to warning people about unwanted trackers across both platforms.

Apple has been hit with legal challenges over AirTag stalking. In March, a San Francisco judge rejected the company's effort to dismiss a class-action lawsuit over the issue.

The timing of the Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers alert rollout is intriguing. There have long been rumors that Google was working on its own Bluetooth tracker. With its I/O developer conference taking place on Tuesday, perhaps such a device is about to come to light.