Stalkers could track Android users, who have no way to detect a hidden AirTag
When Apple launched the AirTag, its wireless object tracker last month, it announced that the underlying service was built with safety and privacy in mind – thanks to a feature to alert users if there were being tracked by an invisible tracker. However, the new object tracker is set to become a stalker’s dream device, considering that Android users have no way to detect them when concealed.
Don’t miss: How to find and disable an AirTag that is being used to track your location
As pointed out by Android Central, unlike competing products that are communicating with the phone they are paired with, the AirTag communicates with iOS equipped devices in the vicinity. This makes the sort of location tracking it is capable of much more sinister, thanks to the accuracy that it offers. Without access to the Find My network, these trackers could be anywhere on your person or in your vehicle – without your knowledge.
After iOS 14.5 began to roll out Apple turned on a massive network of devices that run on iOS to monitor AirTags as they move around. Since it’s very easy for a stalker to slip an AirTag in someone’s bag or on their person, Apple also added protections to inform users if an unrecognised tracker was “moving with them”.
We even published a handy guide to detecting and completely shutting down any unknown trackers that one might find in their belongings. However, these alerts about unknown trackers do not work on Android devices as they do not have access to the Find My network, as Wired notes.
Also read: Researcher manages to hack Apple AirTags Bluetooth tracker with custom NFC URL
Another important point that was raised was that Apple’s AirTag might beep after three days – but this is only when it hasn’t connected to the primary device for that period of time. For users who are victims of stalking or abuse at home, this could mean that the alarm would never go off as the victim would return to the vicinity of the person tracking them.
However, unlike the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 which feature a U1 ultrawideband chip, many Android devices – especially budget and affordable models, do not feature this technology. The report suggests that Apple could provide Android users with a utility to identify specific Bluetooth connection requests to protect themselves from being stalked and to prevent abuse, but it remains to be seen how reliable or effective such a tool would be at detecting concealed tracking devices.