Apple and Google are the two largest mobile platform providers and huge rivals. Google's Android and Apple's iOS dominate the market and are so different in concept and ethos. However, in a rare show of solidarity, Apple and Google have partnered to the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices for unwanted tracking of individuals.
The two tech giants have proposed a new industry specification that will allow Bluetooth trackers to be compatible with unauthorized tracking detection and alerts across iOS and Android platforms.
Apple's press release states:
“Today Apple and Google jointly submitted a proposed industry specification to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices for unwanted tracking. The first-of-its-kind specification will allow Bluetooth location-tracking devices to be compatible with unauthorized tracking detection and alerts across iOS and Android platforms.”
If you are unfamiliar with Bluetooth trackers, they are small devices that can be attached to personal items such as keys, wallets, bags, or pets, and can be located using a smartphone app. They can be very useful for finding lost or misplaced items, but they can also pose a privacy risk if they are used to track someone without their consent.
Apple's own AirTag product is an example of a Bluetooth tracker. Last year, Apple was hit with a lawsuit by two women who say AirTags were used to stalk them.
Creating a Standard Specification for Bluetooth Trackers
To combat this problem of trackers being used, Apple and Google have collaborated to create a joint specification that will require Bluetooth trackers to adhere to certain standards of privacy and security. The specification will ensure that Bluetooth trackers can be detected and alerted by both iOS and Android devices, regardless of the manufacturer or app.
“Bluetooth trackers have created tremendous user benefits, but they also bring the potential of unwanted tracking, which requires industrywide action to solve,” says Dave Burke, Google's vice president of Engineering for Android
The specification will also require Bluetooth trackers to periodically rotate their identifiers to prevent long-term tracking by third parties. Additionally, the specification will enable users to control the permissions and settings of their Bluetooth trackers, such as turning them off or deleting them from their accounts.
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