Google Boosts Privacy Measures for Android Devices

In an era when privacy concerns are high on the agenda, technology giants Google and Apple have made a joint declaration that's sure to please consumers.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Google Boosts Privacy Measures for Android Devices

In an era when privacy concerns are high on the agenda, technology giants Google and Apple have made a joint declaration that's sure to please consumers. They're aiming to curb the unwanted tracking associated with devices like Apple's AirTags.

Google recently announced that it will introduce warnings for unknown trackers on devices operating on Android 6.0 and above.

Android's Alert Function for Unwanted Tracking

At present, Google's anti-tracking function for Android devices is specifically designed for AirTags, but the company's commitment to privacy doesn't stop there.

Google is actively working alongside other tag and tracker manufacturers to ensure their future devices can also benefit from this safeguard. The mechanism is strikingly simple, yet effective. If an unfamiliar Bluetooth tracker is separated from its original owner and encountered by a different user, a notification will be pushed to their Android device.

By tapping on this alert, the recipient can glean more information about the unfamiliar device, including a map to identify how long and from where the tracker has accompanied them. A further enhancement is an option to emit a sound, enabling the Android user to locate the tracker audibly, all without alerting the actual owner of the device.

Beyond this, if an unwanted tracker is placed close to the back of a mobile device, it could potentially expose its serial number, or even some details of its owner—like the last four digits of a phone number. Android users will also have access to instructions on how to completely disable the tracker, providing an additional layer of security and preventing the tracker's true owner from gaining information on their whereabouts.

Stepping Up Anti-Stalking Measures

The primary aim of these new features is to thwart stalking attempts made possible through AirTags and similar tracking devices. Google's strides in this direction are encouraging, with the addition of a manual scanning function to preemptively detect any nearby trackers.

Users need not wait for an automatic alert; instead, they can access this function under Settings > Safety & Emergency > Unknown Tracker Alerts > Scan, with the entire process taking a mere 10 seconds. In a broader collaborative move, Google has stated that it will hold off on launching its 'Find My Device' network until Apple rolls out similar protective features for its iOS devices.

A universal specification to warn against unwanted trackers is expected to be finalized by the end of this year, marking a significant step forward in the ongoing battle for digital privacy.

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