Get The Latest News

Today: May 30, 2024
5 months ago

Android’s ‘Find My Device’ network inches forward as industry spec nears release

Google unveiled a new “Find My Device” network for Android users that would allow trackers to be located using millions of Android devices. That network is currently waiting on Apple to be released, but things are finally getting closer as the industry specification that Apple is waiting on is nearing its release, and in turn support for Android “Find My Device.”

Tracker networks have existed for quite some time, but the ones from Apple, and soon Google, are significantly more powerful as they do not require a device to install an app to participate in tracker detection. That’s a huge win for lost items, but also a slippery slope when it comes to stalking and other malicious behavior. Apple caught a lot of flak for this following the launch of the AirTag, and as a result we’ve seen the company introduce tools for unwanted tracker detection.

Over the Summer, Google also rolled out unwanted tracker detection on Android, which allowed Android devices to detect a nearby AirTag that might not be their own.

With the launch of Google’s new “Find My Device” network for Android, Apple users would have been left without protection of unwanted trackers, as Android users were when Apple launched its network. Google, in a kind decision, opted to delay the network until Apple had implemented protections for iOS users. But Apple’s protections were to be based on a new industry-wide specification backed by both Google and Apple, and as such we’ve been waiting months for this release.

Now, things are moving along.

Google updated a blog post this week (as seemingly spotted by @BjoernDroege and shared by Mishaal Rahman on Twitter/X) to mention that the “integration version of the standard was published on Dec. 20.”

Version 1.0 of “Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers” has been uploaded to the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force). This version has not yet been finalized, but this version 1.0 draft is a huge step towards actually launching the standard and having it implemented across operating systems.

The draft can be read in full on the IETF website, and is summarized saying:

This document lists a set of best practices and protocols for accessory manufacturers whose products have built-in location- tracking capabilities. By following these requirements and recommendations, a location-tracking accessory will be compatible with unwanted tracking detection and alerts on mobile platforms. This is an important capability for improving the privacy and safety of individuals in the circumstance that those accessories are used to track their location without their knowledge or consent.

It’s still unclear when the final release will arrive, but Google had previously said it expected this to be finalized “by the end of 2023.”