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Google to reportedly bake Bluetooth smart tag detection into Android

Airtag Setup Hero
Apple AirTag (Image credit: Joe Keller / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Google could be adding built-in support for Bluetooth tracker detection directly into Android.
  • The most recent version of Google Play Services includes code hints at a tracker detection system.
  • Android phone owners are currently unable to find nearby AirTags without installing Apple's Tracker Detect app.

Apple currently doesn't allow Android phones to detect nearby AirTags without the use of a separate app called Tracker Detect, which it launched late last year. Thankfully, Google could be working on a native Android capability to scan for AirTags and other Bluetooth trackers in the vicinity.

The folks over at 9to5Google spotted some code in the latest version of Google Play Services (v22.12.13), suggesting that such a feature is in the works. The news outlet discovered references to “Unfamiliar device alerts” and  “Unfamiliar Tag Detected Notification” features.

There's mention as well of "Tile tag" and "ATag," which presumably refer to some of the best Bluetooth trackers, such as the Tile Pro and Apple AirTag. The built-in Bluetooth tracker detection capability is likely to be part of Google Play Services, so it should make its way to many of the best Android phones, assuming it gets released in the future.

In addition to detecting nearby smart tags, the feature could also let you ring the tag to find its precise location.

According to 9to5, the search giant started developing the native capability in March of this year. That said, there's no word on when and if it'll hit Android devices.

It's probably worth noting that discovering unreleased features in decompiled APKs doesn't necessarily guarantee that they'll be made public. Some of them are even abandoned at some point.

Otherwise, it'll make it easier for Android users to find nearby Bluetooth trackers. More importantly, it will address a growing concern about smart tags being used to stalk people.

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He is a tech journalist based in the Philippines who has been writing about consumer tech for the past six years and has been using various Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. When he's not writing, he likes to spend time outside, stealing scenes with his phone camera.