The Apple AirTag wasn't the first tracking tag on the market by a longshot, but as is often the case with Apple products, it brought a lot of new attention to the concept.
Unfortunately, it wasn't always just people hoping to avoid losing their laptop bag or luggage, as like other such trackers, they were ripe for misuse for domestic abuse and stalking. Apple worked to combat the AirTag stalking problem with a number of iOS updates, but even with that, Android users and the myriad other tracking tags aren't covered by those protections.
So today saw a joint announcement from Apple and Google proposing a new industry standard to ensure that potential victims of unwanted trackers are notified of the threat whether they use an iPhone or an Android phone (via CNBC).
Coming by the end of 2023
Details are pretty sparse at the moment with the two companies committing to completing the feature by the end of 2023 and implementing it "in future versions of iOS and Android."
The draft proposal has the support of the major players in the tracking tag space including Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee. Apple and Google received feedback from these companies, as well as safety and advocacy groups, to ensure that all potential concerns are addressed as thoroughly and effectively as possible.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence praised the announcement saying that "This collaboration and the resulting standards are a significant step forward." The sentiment was shared by the Center for Democracy & Technology's president and CEO Alexandra Reeve Givens called it "a welcome step to confront harmful misuses of Bluetooth location trackers."
The specification will now pass through the Internet Engineering Task Force, a standards development organization, and will draw review and comment for three months before proceeding further. The hope would be that we see it roll out in Android and iOS updates in early 2024.
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Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.