Apple AirTag
Apple and Google teamed up to create a new feature for iPhones and Androids that alerts users if unknown Bluetooth trackers are following them Wikimedia Commons

In a collaborative effort, Apple and Google have developed an industry-standard detection feature called "Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers" (DULT) for Bluetooth trackers. This standard allows users on iOS and Android devices to be alerted if an unknown Bluetooth tracker is monitoring their location.

Apple began implementing this feature on iPhones with the recently rolled-out iOS 17.5 update. Following in the footsteps of the Cupertino-based tech giant, Google is making it available on devices running Android 6.0 and later.

This specification is designed to mitigate the misuse of devices designed to help keep track of belongings. With this new capability, users will get an "[Item] Found Moving With You" alert on their device if an unknown Bluetooth tracking device is seen moving with them over time, regardless of the platform the device is paired with.

An iOS device user will be alerted if an unfamiliar Bluetooth tracker, such as an AirTag, Find My accessory, or a compatible tracker from other brands, moves with them for a while. This could be someone's borrowed item, but if not, iPhone users can view the tracker's ID, make it play a sound for a more accessible location, and even deactivate it.

In a blog post on Apple's Newsroom website, the company confirmed that famous tracker makers, including Chipolo, eufy, Jio, Motorola, and Pebblebee, are on board to ensure future devices work seamlessly with this new feature.

Right from the start, AirTags and other Find My network accessories prioritised user privacy and safety with reliable protections. Apple remains dedicated to developing and enhancing these features to ensure consumer safety.

This groundbreaking collaboration across platforms incorporates valuable input from industry experts and the community. It provides manufacturers with clear guidelines and best practices for integrating unwanted tracking alerts into their devices, making it an optional but valuable feature.

Apple and Google are partnering with the Internet Engineering Task Force's Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers group to finalise a formal standard for this technology.

While details on Google's Android implementation are scarce, a Google Play System update will likely deliver this feature. This approach ensures all Android devices, regardless of brand, can benefit from this protection.

AirTags and trackers on Google's Find My Device network are compatible with this unwanted tracking alert system.

This isn't the first time Google and Apple have joined forces on user privacy. Last year, these tech titans proposed a technical standard to alert users if Bluetooth devices like AirTags or Tile track their movements.

Apple Releases A Security Update

Apple's recent announcement regarding Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers comes after their effort in March 2024 to bring a security fix for the RTKit real-time operating system (CVE-2024-23296) to older devices running iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

This security flaw (CVE-2024-23296) allows attackers to control the device's core (kernel) and bypass security measures that protect its memory. Attackers have been reported exploiting this vulnerability, but the exact methods are unclear.

Apple's iOS 17.5 update addressed 15 security vulnerabilities, including flaws in AppleAVD (CVE-2024-27804) and the kernel (CVE-2024-27818). Attackers could exploit these vulnerabilities to crash apps or even run malicious code. The same issues have been fixed in macOS Sonoma 14.5.

In contrast, Google's DeepMind, a leader in AI research, recently unveiled AlphaFold 3, a groundbreaking AI tool that could revolutionize our understanding of the human body.