Next Android Update Will Make It Harder for Thieves To Track Your Car With an AirTag

Automatic tracker detection coming to Android 6 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Mishaal Rahman
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AirTags have so far proved to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they help us keep track of important belongings, such as wallets, car keys, and so on. On the other hand, they also allowed people with nefarious intents, such as thieves, to keep an eye on our location. Because the AirTag is such a small device, it can be planted virtually anywhere.
And as many learned the hard way, putting an AirTag behind the license plate or sticking it in the wheel well is incredibly easy.

Stalkers and car thieves have been abusing the AirTag for many months already because detecting the tracker is much harder than you'd be tempted to believe. On iPhone, users get an alert when an AirTag is moving with them. On Android, however, an Apple application that must be manually installed on the smartphone and which requires periodic manual scanning is the only option.

This will come to an end with the release of Android 14 in the summer. The next Google mobile operating system version will include unwanted tracker detection a la iPhone, providing users with alerts whenever such a device is detected near them.

Screenshots that made their way to the web this week show how the whole thing would work, with users getting automatic alerts but also being allowed to perform manual scanning on their Android devices.

The system generates automatic alerts when an unknown tracker is traveling with you, but Google explains that the notifications are automatically removed after 48 hours. Once a tracker is detected, you can make it play a sound to determine its location without the owner getting a warning. Furthermore, Google's new interface also provides assistance on what to do next, including calling law enforcement, retrieving and storing tracker information (for a potential investigation should you reach out to the police), or disabling the tracker altogether.

So far, Google has remained tight-lipped on this feature's release date, but given that a new Android version is just around the corner, chances are it'll be included in this major operating system release.

Police have already warned that AirTags can be used for nefarious purposes, but at the same time, they also admit that in some cases, Apple's device can double as an incredible anti-theft device. Planting an AirTag in the car helps police retrieve it in case it gets stolen, as thieves don't have the time to search for trackers while driving away in your vehicle. Needless to say, the faster you report the theft to the police, the bigger the chances for the AirTag to provide you with valuable information on its location.

Given that the new screenshots suggest the work on Android's tracking detection is almost complete, we should expect more information in the coming weeks.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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