Google will surpass Apple at once when it comes to the reach of Bluetooth trackers. More than 1 billion Android phones help with finding lost items.
Google is revamping its "Find my Device" service. By this summer, not only lost Android phones and tablets with an internet connection can be found, but also many different devices, even if they are currently offline. The company is connecting more than a billion Android devices worldwide to create a tracker network and installing measures against covert surveillance. This was announced at its developer event Google I/O on Wednesday.
The tracking is done via Bluetooth. In addition to phones, some headphones and laptops as well as new versions of the tracker tags available for years will be compatible with the revamped Find my Device service. So far, there are tracker networks from Apple (Airtag) and Samsung (Galaxy Smarttag) as well as various providers that use their own smartphone apps. Each of these networks uses all participating devices in the hope that one of them passes by the lost object. The larger the network, the greater the chance. So far, Apple is likely to be ahead.
However, thanks to the many Android devices, Google can activate the largest tracker network in the world at once. The company did not mention its own tracker tags at the I/O event. Instead, it refers to tags from Tile, Chipolo, and Pebblebee.
Pebblebee and Chipolo offer matching tracker tags
The latter has announced three new tag models for Find my Device. The Clip is particularly designed for keychains and bags, the Tag for larger things like suitcases, coats, or remote controls, and the particularly thin Card as an insert in wallets. All three models are rechargeable, with one charge lasting 12 (Clip), 18 (Tag), or 8 months (Card) according to Pebblebee. In the USA, pre-orders are possible at a unit price of $30 net, and four packs cost $100 net.
Chipolo introduces One Point for keychains ($28 net) and Card Point for wallets ($35 net). However, they are not rechargeable. The battery is said to last one or two years respectively. For Card Point, Chipolo offers an exchange program: Anyone who sends in the tracker tag after two years will receive a new one at half the then current price.
Google emphasizes privacy protection
Apple's Airtags, in particular, have caused numerous negative headlines because they are being used for covert surveillance of unsuspecting people. Now, Google and Apple are jointly taking action. An industry standard will ensure that Android and iOS warn against Bluetooth trackers. Tile and Samsung are also on board alongside Apple and Google.
Google is implementing this as well: Android phones will automatically warn when an unknown tracker is moving with the same paths. Apple's Airtags and other popular models will also trigger the alarm. The phone should then show where the tracker was present, be able to beep it, and provide instructions for neutralization.
In addition, Android phone owners will be able to manually scan for trackers. Google emphasizes that the connections between a tracker and its owner are end-to-end encrypted. This means that no one can evaluate foreign trackers, not even Google itself. The company will announce more details about privacy protection shortly before the market launch of the new Find my Device.
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