Apple unveils Android app that can detect AirTags and Find My devices

Tracker Detect is expected to boost user privacy and gives instructions on how to disable 'unknown' AirTags that are nearby

Apple unveils AirTag, in this still image from the keynote video of a special event at Apple Park in Cupertino, California, U.S. released April 20, 2021. Apple Inc./Handout via REUTERS. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Apple unveiled an Android app that will help users who do not own iPhones or iPads to detect unexpected AirTags and other devices compatible with Apple's Find My network that are near them.

The development makes good on the technology company's pledge to boost user privacy.

The Tracker Detect app, which was first floated in June this year, allows users to find out if they are being tracked without their knowledge. After a manual scan, any AirTag found will be flagged as an "unknown", and a sound can be played to locate it.

Tapping it with an iPhone or NFC-capable device will provide instructions on how to disable it by removing its battery. If the AirTag is in "lost mode", instructions on how to return it to its owner will be given.

Apple's Tracker Detect app for Android devices can identify "unknown AirTags". Photo: Apple

The move is meant to soothe fears regarding privacy, particularly for owners of Android devices who make up about three quarters of mobile users around the world, according to Statista data.

Until the app's launch, Android users could be stalked or followed using an AirTag without them being aware of it.

"We are raising the bar on privacy for our users and the industry, and hope others will follow," an Apple representative told The National.

“We are extending new capabilities to Android devices. Tracker Detect gives Android users the ability to scan for an AirTag or supported Find My-enabled item trackers that might be travelling with them without their knowledge."

Apple's AirTags were launched in April but critics expressed concern that they could be used to stalk people.

In June, the iPhone maker issued a software update by adjusting the time period that an AirTag that is no longer with its owner beeps to deter abuse.

Apple has said that information, including identity and location, on AirTags is encrypted and no one, Apple included, has access to it.

Tracker Detect was made available on Google Play on Monday. Most user reviews criticised the need to manually scan for AirTags, something that iPhones and iPads automatically do.

They also pointed out that AirTags could not be detected even if they are so close by. However, Apple has said that an AirTag can only be detected if it has been away from its paired device for 10 minutes.

Third-party devices that are compatible with Find My app include Belkin's Soundform Freedom wireless ear buds, VanMoof's S3 and X3 e-bikes, and the Chipolo One Spot tracking tag.

It remains unclear whether devices from other brands will join the Find My service soon.

Updated: December 15th 2021, 7:56 AM