After a bit of backlash from users, Apple detailed two important changes to the way AirTags and the Find My network operate in order to prevent unwanted tracking on Thursday.
In a statement to CNET, Apple announced that it will make a detection app for Android to help prevent unscrupulous people from planting a device on someone and tracking their location without their knowledge. Currently, if your Apple device detects a Find My tracker (such as an AirTag or Chipolo One Spot) that doesn’t belong to you but is moving with you, you will be alerted. It’s a security measure to stop a stalker from dropping a tracker in your bag or pocket and knowing your every move.
But if you have an Android phone, there’s no way for you to know you’re being tracked. Apple will release an Android app to detect AirTags or other Find My trackers traveling with you. Don’t expect full Find My functionality on Android, though. This isn’t an app for you to find all your own devices (and friends) on a map, just an “unknown tracker” detector.
It’s a good measure, but one has to wonder how effective it will be. An Android user will have to download this app as a precautionary measure, or if they suspect they’re being tracked in exactly this fashion, and it’s hard to imagine a very large percentage of users will. Still, it’s an excellent security and privacy measure for those who have reason to fear being tracked but don’t own an iPhone.
Fortunately, Apple is also changing the amount of time an AirTag will wait before playing a sound. Currently, AirTags make a noise after three days separated from its “owner.” With a software update rolling out now, that time interval is getting shorter and harder to predict: a sound will now play at a random time between 8 and 24 hours. That’s arguably a much better protective measure to help prevent AirTags from being used to track unsuspecting people.
I have written professionally about technology for my entire adult professional life - over 20 years. I like to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.