In response to concerns about privacy and security, Apple and Google have announced a partnership aimed at addressing the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices — the two tech giants plan to create a draft specification to address unwanted tracking (by AirTags and other Bluetooth item trackers), allowing them to be compatible with unauthorized tracking detection and alerts across iOS and Android platforms.
While Apple’s iOS already has robust features in place to counter unwanted tracking by AirTag item trackers, these features are not available to third-party item tracker companies like Tile, who recently launched a cat collar accessory for its tracker. As part of this partnership, Apple and Google have submitted a proposed industry specification to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which outlines best practices and instructions for manufacturers to follow if they choose to build these capabilities into their products.
The technology created by the two companies will allow Bluetooth location-tracking devices to be compatible with unauthorized tracking detection and alerts across both iOS and Android platforms. This is a significant step forward in addressing the potential misuse of these devices and enhancing user privacy and safety. Several companies, including Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, Eufy, and Pebblebee, have expressed their support for the draft specification. Apple has stated that it will continue to refine and develop the technology with feedback from other players in the industry.
Ron Huang, Apple’s vice president of Sensing and Connectivity, has emphasized that the new industry specification builds upon the AirTag protections, adding, “Through collaboration with Google, it results in a critical step forward to help combat unwanted tracking across iOS and Android.”
The production implementation of the specification for unwanted tracking alerts is expected to be released by the end of 2023, and it will be supported in future versions of iOS and Android. The collaboration between Apple and Google is a noteworthy achievement in the ongoing battle against unwanted tracking on multiple platforms, reinforcing the appropriate use of this technology.