Apple has released a new app that enables Android users to determine whether someone may be tracking them using an AirTag or similar compatible trackers from other companies. Called Tracker Detect, the free app scans the user’s immediate area for signs of a compatible tracker that isn’t near its owner, potentially highlighting a personal safety issue.
AirTag is Apple’s alternative to similar tracking products from companies like Tile. With this small circular device, consumers can use their iPhone to keep track of their backpack, laptop, and any other objects on which an AirTag is placed. That’s great for finding a lost purse or misplaced wallet, but it comes with a downside.
Some consumers have raised concerns about partners and other individuals potentially using Apple’s AirTag to track them without their permission. This can be as simple as, for example, placing an AirTag in the victim’s car or slipping one into their bag when they’re not looking.
AirTag works on Apple’s Find My network, which utilizes the vast number of Apple devices in public to detect and provide an approximate location for any given tracker. Shortly after launch, the company introduced new AirTag features that help reduce the odds a person may be tracked without their knowledge, including alerting nearby iPhone owners that they’re close to an unknown AirTag (via Apple). The small devices are also designed to randomly play a sound after spending several hours away from their owners.
The enhanced security features followed heavy criticism over how the small devices may enable stalking behaviors (via Intego). In June, Apple promised it would release an app for Android users to detect unknown nearby AirTags and now, around six months later, that product is finally available to download from the Google Play Store.
Tracker Detect enables Android users to search for nearby trackers compatible with its Find My network, including AirTags. The app will show a list of any nearby unknown trackers it found. Users can trigger the tracker to play a sound, which will help locate the device, potentially shedding light on whether it’s simply a lost AirTag or one that is deliberately hidden in one’s personal items.
Once the tracker is located, Android users can also use Tracker Detect to get details on the AirTag like its serial number. The app also provides information on disabling the device by removing its battery, which will prevent its owner from seeing its location. According to some early reviews of the app, Tracker Detect appears to only work with manual scanning, meaning users will only discover nearby unknown AirTags and other trackers if they open the app and tap “Scan.”