Apple and Google could be about to launch their anti-stalking tracker tech

Apple AirTag attached to a keyring
It'll soon be harder to stalk someone with an AirTag (Image credit: Future)

The Apple AirTags, and similar trackers made by companies such as Tile, do a great job of keeping tabs on where your stuff has got to – but they can also be used to monitor someone's location without their knowledge. Now, anti-stalking tech developed in partnership by Apple and Google seems to be on the verge of launching.

Seasoned tech tipster Mishaal Rahman (via Android Police) has spotted that a specification for "Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers" has been filed at the Internet Engineering Task Force, or IETF. That's a sure sign that the spec will soon be arriving.

Apple and Google's joint initiative was announced back in May of this year, when we heard that an "industry specification to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices" was in development. Other major players in the tech world, including Samsung and Tile, are also on board with the spec.

When the update finally does appear, it should ensure that you get timely alerts if an unrecognized tracker is somewhere close to you and traveling with you – no matter what phone you're using or what brand of tracker it is.

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It's not all that easy to make a Bluetooth tracker that can tell you where your phone or other gadgets are, but that can't also be used to track someone else's location. The main anti-stalking measures we've seen so far involve software that looks for tracking devices that are in range, haven't been registered by you, and move at the same time as you do.

Tech companies have been proactive in trying to keep their trackers as safe as possible. Apple has regularly rolled out improvements for AirTags to make it easier to locate ones that are nearby if they don't actually belong to you.

For its part, Google has added similar functionality to Android, and Tile has also been busy trying to make it as hard as possible for its trackers to be used to monitor the location of someone else's stuff, rather than your own.

As welcome as these updates have been, they don't work seamlessly across all phones and all trackers. That's something that the new spec should fix, and it'll be built right into future versions of Android and iOS when it rolls out.

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David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.