Apple and Google are working together to make sure products like AirTags, which can help people locate lost items, are not used for unwanted tracking of individuals.
The companies said they submitted a joint proposal for "industry specification to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices for unwanted tracking." The new technology would essentially allow for alerts on all types of phone when any brand of tracking device is detected nearby.
Unwanted tracking has become a major concern since Apple launched its product in 2021.
Scripps News Tulsa reported in May of 2022 about several different incidents involving unwanted AirTag tracking. Oklahoma State University police said several students reported that they were being tracked by the devices.
"It's new. It’s something we haven’t dealt with before," said Michael Galbraith, captain of operations at OSU Tulsa.
In a separate incident, a woman in Denver, Colorado, said someone tried to track her after going out for drinks.
"It wasn't until I got home that I got a notification that an AirTag was detected with me," said Hilary Postlethwaite.
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Apple said it wants to share its evolving technology to help keep people safe.
"This new industry specification builds upon the AirTag protections, and through collaboration with Google results in a critical step forward to help combat unwanted tracking across iOS and Android," said Ron Huang, Apple’s vice president of sensing and connectivity.
Google said it's proud to partner with Apple to keep people safe.
“Android has an unwavering commitment to protecting users, and will continue to develop strong safeguards and collaborate with the industry to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth tracking devices,” said Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of engineering for Android.
Apple and Google said they plan to address feedback about the new specifications over the next several months. The companies expect iOS and Android devices to support the unwanted tracking alerts by the end of the year.
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