Apple Launches Android App To Address AirTags Tracker Fears


Apple has launched an app for competitor Android’s smartphones, which will inform users if there is a tracking device nearby.

Apple’s AirTags are small location trackers that can be attached to items such as keys or bags in case they are lost.

But they could also be used with malicious intent, such as being planted on people without their knowledge.

The new app allows Android users to detect nearby trackers they do not own.

AirTags work by leveraging millions of Apple devices, each of which can detect nearby tags, to create a powerful tracking network.

“These small inexpensive tags can potentially make it very easy for a stalker to hide one in the victim’s car or personal possessions and then be able to track their victim’s whereabouts,” Rachel Horman-Brown, who chairs anti-stalking advocacy service Paladin, told BBC News:

Two months after their release, amid concerns over abuse, Apple introduced a feature where iPhones would notify users if an “unknown AirTag” or other compatible third-party device was detected “moving with you over time”.

And the new Android Tracker Detect app attempts to give Android users some of the safety features Apple has built into its own devices.

The app “looks for item trackers within Bluetooth range that are separated from their owner”, Apple says in its support documentation.

“If you think someone is using an AirTag or another item tracker to track your location, you can scan to try to find it,” it says.

The app also allows users to play a sound on an AirTag to help locate it if it has been nearby for at least 10 minutes.

AirTags are also made to beep if they are away from the iPhone they are registered to – at a random interval between eight and 24 hours – which can help unaware victims find any intrusive trackers.

The new app also contains instructions on how to remove the battery and disable an AirTag if one is found.

Early reviews for the Android app are mixed, with some users criticizing the fact scans have to be initiated manually, rather than automatically detecting nearby tags, so victims have to already suspect they are being tracked.

Others, however, applauded Apple for introducing privacy tools on a rival platform.