Google plans AirTags rival (because Google doesn't track you enough already)

AirTag battery cover
(Image credit: Future)

Google is reportedly readying a competitor to Apple’s AirTag item tracker, with a launch possibly happening at some point this year.

The company has not confirmed the existence of the tracker or announced anything, but code found by one leaker suggests that a device dubbed “grogu” internally will borrow heavily from what makes AirTags so popular — including support for ultra-wideband (UWB) technology.

The unannounced item tracker reportedly carries additional codenames inside Google: "groguaudio" and "GR10" were both mentioned by the leaker.

Track all the things

Google is frequently maligned for the amount of data it collects on people, so the prospect of a Google-branded item tracker might give some people pause. But in terms of technology, grogu might have what it takes to be a success.

Developer Kuba Wojciechowski, who has a strong track record in the world of Android leaks, notes that the device includes support for UWB, letting it offer more accurate item location information than other technologies. The Pixel phones also include UWB technology, something that would be required to make everything work properly.

Wojciechowski claims the item tracker will have a built-in speaker, just like AirTags, while it also appears that Google will offer it in multiple color options — something Apple still refuses to do.

While it's difficult to be sure when Google will announce this thing, Wojciechowski is of the opinion that we could hear something at this year’s Google I/O conference, likely to take place in May. Item trackers could then go on sale later in the year.

One thing that isn’t yet clear is whether the item trackers would work with non-Google phones or if they would be compatible only with Pixel devices. We expect to learn details like that in the coming weeks and months. Either way, we can be sure that Google will make one of the best Bluetooth trackers around — at least for Android phone users.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.