Apple and Google Team Up to Solve AirTag Tracking Issue | Tech News

Apple and Google have teamed up to stop people who try to track people using devices designed to help find lost keys and luggage.

Rival tech giants typically don’t collaborate on new smartphone features, Joint initiative to create contact tracing software during pandemic One of the few examples in the past.

But now they have submitted a proposal to set standards to combat covert surveillance, following reports that the gadgets like Apple AirTags has been used for malicious purposes.

A lawsuit filed in San Francisco in December claims women have been stalked by ex-partners who hid devices among their belongings — Includes a car and a kid’s backpack.

apple insists it has made the small puck-shaped gadgets “stalker-proof”, but admits “bad guys” have tried to abuse them.

While AirTags have been particularly popular since their release in 2021, the same concerns apply to similar products like Tile and Pebblebee.

Using Bluetooth technology, these devices can connect to easily lost items such as wallets, which are then displayed in an app on the user’s smartphone.

How do air tags work?

AirTags are loaded with what Apple calls the U1 chip, which is basically capable of “pinging” any other Apple device in the wild, triangulating the precise location of the AirTag itself.

With so many iPhones on the market, the chip means AirTags don’t rely on more familiar location technologies like GPS.

Apple Airtag

To see the AirTag’s location, users open the “Find My” app on their iPhone — newer phones can get precise sat-nav-style directions on the screen.

Misplaced AirTags can enter “lost mode,” which allows users to enter a custom message that will be displayed on someone’s phone — such as contact information — when they hold the phone close to the lost AirTag.

This all sounds very convenient, and if used as intended (such as lost luggage), it could prove to be very valuable.

But some have expressed concern about the gadget’s potential to track people rather than objects, and in theory a criminal or stalker could put it in someone’s bag or even in their car.

Apple insists it has made AirTags “anti-stalker” because the Find My app will alert people if it detects for a long time one of the devices that doesn’t belong to them – and has been assigned to someone else.

‘Industry-wide action needed’

apple and Googlerunning iOS and Android mobile operating systems, respectively, and has previously developed its own solution to the problem of malicious tracking.

For example, iPhone users will now be warned if unknown AirTags may “travel with them.”

But the two companies want to go a step further, proposing an industry standard they hope to submit to a group called the Internet Engineering Task Force later this year.

Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of Android engineering, said the unpopular tracking issue “requires industry-wide action to fix it.”

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A draft proposal suggests that security updates for all tracking devices would be delivered through regular software updates to Apple and Android smartphones.

The move was welcomed by campaigners, with the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Safety Net Project saying it would “reduce the burden on survivors to detect unwanted trackers”.

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