Android’s Find My Device Network Gains Momentum

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Google has introduced a new “Find My Device” network for Android users, which enables the tracking of devices using millions of Android devices. Currently, this network is pending release on Apple devices. The release is drawing near as the industry specification that Apple is awaiting is approaching completion. This will pave the way for support of Android’s “Find My Device” on Apple devices.

Tracker networks have been around for a while. However, those from Apple and soon Google are notably more robust. This is because they don’t necessitate the installation of an app on a device to participate in tracker detection. While this is advantageous for finding lost items, it also raises concerns about potential misuse. Such misuses include stalking and other malicious activities. Apple faced criticism for this issue after launching the AirTag. The company addressed this by introducing tools for detecting unwanted trackers.

Google has Already Addressed Potential Misuse of Find My Device Network Find My Device

During the summer, Google introduced unwanted tracker detection on Android, enabling Android devices to identify a nearby AirTag that might not belong to the user. This feature aimed to address concerns related to potential misuse and unauthorized tracking of devices.

With the introduction of Google’s “Find My Device” network for Android, Apple users would have been left without safeguards against unwanted trackers. Just as Android users were when Apple launched its network. In a considerate move, Google chose to postpone the network’s launch until Apple had implemented protections for iOS users. The safeguards from Apple were anticipated to base on a new industry-wide specification supported by both Google and Apple. Consequently, the release of these protections has been in the wait for several months.

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Google made an update to a blog post this week, as observed by @BjoernDroege and shared by Mishaal Rahman on Twitter/X. The post indicated that the “integration version of the standard was published on Dec. 20.” This suggests progress in the development and publication of the industry-wide specification, likely related to safeguards against unwanted trackers for both Android and iOS users.

Google has Upload First Version of “Detecting Unwanted Trackers,” Getting Ready for Find My Device Network Find My Device

Version 1.0 of “Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers” has been uploaded to the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force). While this version isn’t the final version, the release of this draft represents a significant step toward establishing the standard and eventually implementing it across various operating systems. It indicates progress in the development of a standardized approach to detect and address unwanted location trackers.

You can read the complete draft on the IETF website. In a nutshell, it summarizes:

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.

We don’t know exactly when the final version will be out, but Google had mentioned before that they thought it would be ready “by the end of 2023.”

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