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Android users now have a defense against AirTag tracking with the activation of Google’s Unknown Tracker Alerts feature. This functionality, initially introduced during Google I/O 2023 in May, was slated for a July release, and it appears to have finally been rolled out.

Currently, Google has confirmed the compatibility of Unknown Tracker Alerts exclusively with AirTags, without providing specific reasons. Given the significant attention surrounding misuse of AirTags for unauthorized tracking — and their design to signal every nearby iPhone — this focus makes sense.

Apple had already implemented measures to shield its users from AirTag-related intrusions, leaving Android users somewhat vulnerable. Google may have taken a while to respond, but the saying “better late than never” holds true. Now, Android users can have peace of mind, safeguarding themselves from any concealed AirTags in their vicinity.

1. Open Settings > Safety and emergency > Unknown Tracker Alerts

To begin, navigate to the Settings Menu and scroll through until you spot the ‘Safety and emergency’ selection. For those using devices on Android 11 or earlier versions, you might see this labeled as ‘Personal safety’.

At the very end of this menu, you’ll find the ‘Unknown tracker alerts’ choice. Simply tap on it to proceed.

2. Toggle Allow Alerts on

On the next screen, ensure that the ‘Allow alerts’ option is activated. While this was enabled by default in our trials, it’s crucial to verify for maximum protection. Remember, this functionality operates only when Bluetooth is enabled, and you’ll receive a notification in the ‘Unknown tracker alerts’ section if it isn’t.

3. Perform a scan

The ‘Unknown tracker alerts’ function operates on its own. However, for an immediate check, you can tap the ‘Scan Now’ button located near the bottom of your display.

This ensures that no unidentified AirTags are lurking nearby.

Deal with an unknown AirTag

Should a scan, whether automated or initiated by you, detect an AirTag seemingly tracking you, the ‘Unknown tracker alerts’ feature provides several tools for assistance.

By tapping the AirTag symbol on your display, you’ll access details about the specific tracker, including an option to prompt it to ‘Play sound’ for easier pinpointing. However, during my brief experience with this capability, I wasn’t able to make my AirTag produce sound using my Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 4a.

Additionally, the interface offers comprehensive insights on addressing an unidentified tracker and directs you to more detailed resources on Google’s support site.

Other Things of Note

It’s noteworthy that Android doesn’t recognize AirTags unless they are apart from their paired device. For instance, when my iPad was active, Android didn’t detect my AirTag. However, once the iPad Mini was turned off, the AirTag became detectable.

The auto-scan feature didn’t seem as responsive in detecting stray AirTags. Surprisingly, even 15 minutes post a manual detection of my tracker, the automatic scan hadn’t identified the AirTag, irrespective of how much I shuffled around with both devices.

The frequency of these automatic scans remains uncertain, and conducting a manual scan seems to reset its detection timeline. At the time of writing, 20 minutes have passed since the last manual scan, and my Pixel hasn’t identified the AirTag without manual prompting.

I’m optimistic that perhaps it’s just my anticipation playing tricks and not a faulty feature. I’ll provide an update on this piece if the AirTag detection aligns with Google’s claims. If not, it might paint a less than flattering picture for the debut of such a crucial security tool.

For those unaware of how to deactivate an AirTag, the process is straightforward. Just rotate the silver backplate off and extract the battery. It’s advisable to note down the serial number during this process since Apple can trace it to its registered owner, facilitating police involvement if necessary.

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