Apple has released Tracker Detect, a new Android app designed to assist those without an iOS device in determining whether someone is snooping their location using an AirTag or other Find My-compatible device.
When the software detects a nearby AirTag that has been separated from its owner, it marks it as a “Unknown AirTag.” If it continues to follow you for 10 minutes, you can use the app to instruct the tracker to play a sound, making it easier to locate. At that point, you can tap the device with your NFC-enabled phone to receive instructions on how to remove the device’s battery or otherwise disable it.
The app does not require an Apple account to use. As previously stated, it can detect Find My-compatible trackers such as the Chipolo One Spot. “AirTag offers industry-leading privacy and security features, and we’re excited to bring new capabilities to Android devices today.” Tracker Detect allows Android users to “scan for an AirTag or supported Find My enabled item trackers that may be traveling with them without their knowledge,” according to an Apple spokesperson. “We are raising the privacy bar for our users and the industry, and we hope that others will follow.”
Tracker Detect was released in response to numerous reports of bad actors using AirTags to stalk people. In Canada, for example, police recently issued a warning about thieves using the $29 device to steal expensive automobiles. In a separate effort to limit abuse, Apple updated its trackers in June to play a sound between eight and 24 hours after they’re separated from their owner, rather than three days as was the case at launch.
The effectiveness of Tracker Detect in protecting people is proportional to the number of people who download it. Unlike iOS, which sends proactive warnings when errant AirTags are detected, you must install this app on your Android device. Its safeguards aren’t built into Android yet, at least not yet.