Google's Find My Device network will debut soon as Apple readies iPhone antistalking support

AirTag on keyring
(Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

When Apple announced the AirTag item tracker it was far from the first accessory that was designed to make it easier for people to keep tabs on all of their stuff, but it soon became one of the most popular. Its relatively cheap asking price and incredible accuracy made it perfect for finding your keys. But it also made it incredibly accessible for people who wanted to use it for ill — like stalking.

As Google has been working on launching its own Find My-like tracking network it agreed to work with Apple to try and prevent those networks and devices from being used by stalkers. Google had said that it wouldn't bring its Find My Device network online until Apple was ready to add safety features to the iPhone that would allow owners to be alerted if a Find My Device accessory was following them — and now, it is.

Following the revelation that the iOS 17.5 beta includes references to Google's technology and "new anti-stalking features," Google has finally confirmed that its Find My Device network is ready to go, and it's started to inform Android phone owners that they can expect it to come online within days.

Find my feature

Google's readiness was first reported by 9to5Google with emails having been received by some people in which Google extols the virtues of its new Find My Device network.

"With the new Find My Device network, you’ll be able to locate your devices even if they’re offline," the email explains. "You can also find any compatible Fast Pair accessories when they’re disconnected from your device. This includes compatible earbuds and headphones, and trackers that you can attach to your wallet, keys, or bike." But most importantly, the email also goes on to explain that the feature will start to go live on Sunday, April 7 although it's likely that users will have to wait until the following day for the network to become fully operational.

"You’ll get a notification on your Android devices when this feature is turned on in 3 days," the email says. "Until then, you can opt out of the network through Find My Device on the web."

As for Apple's work, iOS 17.5 reportedly includes new strings that read “This item isn’t certified on the Apple Find My network. You can disable this item and stop it from sharing its location with the owner. To do this, follow the instructions provided on a website by the manufacturer of this item.”

We don't yet know exactly when Apple intends to make iOS 17.5 available, but it's currently in its very first beta which means we can expect the final release to take place within a matter of weeks. We can of course also expect this new anti-stalking technology to be baked into the upcoming iOS 18, with Apple expected to unveil that during the WWDC event on June 10. Apple has yet to comment on the impending launch of Google's Find My Device network.

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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.