Apple’s new Android app detects nearby AirTags
Apple has just released a new app for Android called Tracker Detect which allows users to detect if AirTags are nearby. With a recent increase in car thieves using AirTags to track and steal high-end cars, this app couldn’t have been launched at a better time.
The app “looks for item trackers separate from their owner and compatible with Apple’s Find My network. These item trackers include AirTag and compatible devices from other companies. As long as the tracker someone is using works on the Locate network, this app will find it, if it’s using another network (like Tile’s, for example), Apple’s app won’t help.
As for when you would use this app, Apple says, “If you suspect someone is using AirTag or another device to track your location, you can scan to try to find them.” This means you need to feel like someone might be tracking you before the app becomes useful. It will not preemptively notify you that an AirTag is in the area.
You will need Android 9 and above to use the app. Once downloaded, there is a simple blue button labeled “Scan” which will check if there are any AirTags that have been separated from their owner nearby. If there is one, the AirTag will play a sound to help you find it. Apple says it can take up to 15 minutes after a tracker is separated from its owner before it’s listed in the app.
An Apple spokesperson issued a statement to CNET regarding the new app:
AirTag provides industry-leading privacy and security features and today we are extending new features to Android devices. Tracker Detect gives Android users the ability to search for an AirTag or supported Find My compatible item trackers that might be traveling with them without their knowledge. We are raising the bar on privacy for our users and the industry, and hope others will follow.
This goes a long way to solving one of the biggest issues privacy advocates have with AirTags, but it’s not a perfect solution. If you don’t suspect that someone is tracking you, you have no reason to download the app and run the scan. Still, it’s a step in the right direction that gives Android users who think something is wrong an option.