Android’s Find My clone hits a snag, and Google blames Apple


Androids will soon warn of AirTags used by stalkers
Google’s Find My Device system, a copy of Apple’s, won‘t arrive for months.
Photo: Google

Google thinks Apple’s Find My network is so clever it’s “borrowing” the idea. But the upcoming extension of Android’s Find My Device network to tracking tags has been delayed — and Google says it’s all because of Apple.

The snafu supposedly stems from the companies working together on a scheme to prevent stalkers from misusing tracking tags made for the two rival platforms.

Android Find My Device upgrade pushed back

Apple’s Find My system allows a lost tracking tag, Apple device or compatible third-party product (like this backpack) to be located by any iPhone that passes near it. That means the lost item’s location can be determined almost anywhere on Earth. Google’s Find My Device system allows a lost tracking tag or similar accessory to be located by any Android that passes near it, yadda yadda yadda.

Apple implemented its version years ago and launched its AirTag trackers in 2021. Google unveiled the Android knockoff in May. At the time, the company planned to release the Android version before the end of summer.

But Thursday, Google rolled back the release to the end of 2023. And it threw Apple under the bus in the process.

“We are working in partnership with Apple to help finalize the joint unwanted tracker alert specification by the end of this year,” said Erik Kay in a blog post. “At this time we’ve made the decision to hold the rollout of the Find My Device network until Apple has implemented protections for iOS.”

When it’s available, the Android system will enable users to track everyday items like headphones, luggage and keys. This is already possible with Apple’s system and supported accessories.

Apple and Google try to hinder stalkers

Tracking tags like AirTag and the upcoming Android equivalent prove ideal for keeping track of keys, bags and more. But there’s also the potential for abuse by criminals, creeps and stalkers.

Apple built antistalking features into AirTag and its associated Find My system. But there’s a weakness. While iPhone users get a warning if an unknown AirTag is following them, Android users must install a separate app for that. And the reverse was going to be true for the upcoming Android-based tracking tags.

To make the whole process better, Apple and Google collaborated on a cross-platform system so users of one platform will be alerted if they’re being followed by a location tracker that uses the rival platform. (For example, an Android user will receive a warning about an AirTag acting suspiciously.)

Apple’s implementation of this cross-platform system is what Google says is causing the delay in its Find My Device network. It’s likely the new antistalking feature is built into iOS 17, and that isn’t expected before September at the earliest.


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