Google appears to be adding Bluetooth tracker detection to Android
Google is seemingly baking support for Bluetooth trackers such as Tile and Apple AirTag directly into Android.
9to5Google has been sifting through the code of the latest version of Google Play services (version 22.12.13 if you’re curious), and has discovered references to “Unfamiliar device alerts” and a “Unfamiliar Tag Detected Notification” for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) tags.
Intriguingly, these terms are mentioned in relation to “Tile” and “ATag”, which would appear to be references to the popular Tile and Apple AirTags Bluetooth tracking ecosystems.
So what does this mean? We can’t be sure – Google often tries things in its code that never come to fruition. However, it does appear that Google is setting up the ability to contact and “ring the tag” directly from your Android device. This could well be Google adding some form of Bluetooth tracker support to Android.
There are third party Android apps for both of these Bluetooth tracker systems, of course. However, Apple’s AirTags (to use one example) doesn’t allow Android to automatically scan for trackers in the background, like it does on iPhone.
Not all high-end Android phones have the iPhone’s Ultra Wideband (UWB) sensor for pinpoint tracking, either. The Google Pixel 6 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus are relative rarities in that regard.
Basically, Android has some catching up to do in the Bluetooth tracker stakes, and Google appears to be taking steps to correct that via some form of baked-in system-level support.
The original report also throws out the tantalising possibility that Google, together with Apple, Tile, and Samsung, might be working on a joint Bluetooth tag tracker platform. This would certainly help alleviate some of the security concerns around such tracking products.