Apple and Google partner to stop unwanted tracking with AirTags

AirTag on keychain
(Image credit: Future)

Apple and Google have today announced a new joint proposal for an industry-standard specification that will help stop unwanted tracking through devices like AirTags. 

"Location-tracking devices help users find personal items like their keys, purse, luggage, and more through crowdsourced finding networks. However, they can also be misused for unwanted tracking of individuals," an Apple press release stated

The proposal is designed "to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices for unwanted tracking," and will allow unauthorized tracking detection of devices from the likes of Tile, Chipolo, and of course Apple's own AirTags. 

Unwanted tracking

Ron Huang, Apple’s vice president of Sensing and Connectivity, stated that while AirTags give users "the peace of mind knowing where to find their most important items" the company wants to ensure "the technology is being used as intended" and says the move is a " critical step forward to help combat unwanted tracking across iOS and Android." 

It comes as stories of unsolicited tracking, especially in domestic settings, using Apple's AirTags have proliferated ever since their release. While the AirTags have protections on iPhone against unwanted tracking, these are less robust on Android, and their discrete nature makes them very hard to find. 

The specification submitted today will be subject to three months of review and comment, whereupon Apple and Google "will partner to address feedback, and will release a production implementation of the specification for unwanted tracking alerts by the end of 2023 that will then be supported in future versions of iOS and Android." That could include iOS 17, expected to be unveiled at WWDC 2023 later this year. 

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9