Apple has just released a new app for Android called Tracker Detect that allows users to detect if any AirTags are nearby. With a recent uptick of car thieves users AirTags to track and steal high-end cars, this app couldn’t have launched at a better time.
The app “looks for item trackers that are separated from their owner and that are compatible with Apple’s Find My network. These item trackers include AirTag and compatible devices from other companies.” As long as the tracker someone is using works on the Find My network, this app will track it down. If it’s using another network (like Tile’s, for example), Apple’s app won’t do any good.
As far as when you’d use this app, Apple says, “If you think someone is using AirTag or another device to track your location, you can scan to try to find it.” That means you need to have an inclination that someone might be tracking you before the app becomes useful. It won’t preemptively alert you that an AirTag is in the area.
You’ll need to have Android 9 and up to use the app. Once downloaded, there’s a simple blue button labeled “Scan” that will check to see if there are any AirTags that have been separated from their owner nearby. If there is, it’ll make the AirTag play a sound to help you find it. Apple says it may take up to 15 minutes after a tracker is separated from its owner before it’s listed in the app.
An Apple spokesperson made a statement to CNET regarding the new app:
AirTag provides industry leading privacy and security features and today we are extending new capabilities to Android devices. Tracker Detect gives Android users the ability to scan for an AirTag or supported Find My enabled item trackers that might be traveling with them without their knowledge. We are raising the bar on privacy for our users and the industry, and hope others will follow.
This goes a long way towards solving one of the most significant issues privacy advocates had with AirTags, but it’s not a perfect solution. If you don’t suspect someone is tracking you, you’d have no reason to download the app and run the scan. Still, it’s a step in the right direction that gives Android users who think something might be wrong an option.