Apple and Google team up to stop unwanted location tracking

3 May 2023

Image: © Tada Images/

The companies have proposed new specification to combine devices like Apple AirTags with unauthorised tracking alerts across iOS and Android platforms.

Tech giants Apple and Google are leading a new initiative to tackle the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices, amid fears they can be used to track people.

The companies have proposed new specification to combine these types of devices with unauthorised tracking detection and alerts across iOS and Android platforms.

These location-tracking devices are designed to help users find personal items such as their keys, purse and other items. A key example is AirTag, which was released by Apple in 2021.

But reports came in last year that these devices were being used to track people. In multiple cases, people received ‘unknown accessory detected’ notifications from their iPhone, alerting them that an AirTag was being used without their knowledge.

As a result, Apple added privacy warnings to deter potential stalkers, along with improved notifications and precision finding to detect unwanted AirTags.

“Apple launched AirTag to give users the peace of mind knowing where to find their most important items,” said Ron Huang, Apple VP of sensing and connectivity.

“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.”

The two companies said Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, Eufy Security and Pebblebee have expressed support for the draft specification. Interested parties have been invited to review and comment on the draft over the next three months.

Following this comment period, Apple and Google plan to partner up to address feedback and will release a production implementation by the end of 2023, which will then be supported in future versions of iOS and Android.

“Bluetooth trackers have created tremendous user benefits, but they also bring the potential of unwanted tracking, which requires industrywide action to solve,” said Dave Burke, Google VP of engineering for Android.

“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.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic