One of the biggest stories from Google IO 2023 was that Android is getting an AirTag-rivaling Find My Device upgrade and some new ‘Unknown tracker alerts’ to help you avoid tracker stalking – and with both due to roll out “later this summer”, we’re now getting a glimpse of what they look like.
Like Apple’s AirTags and Find My network, Google’s updated Find My Device feature will anonymously leverage billions of Android devices around the world to help you track down lost or stolen items, even when they’re offline. And 9to5Google recently spotted some signs that this network is gearing up for launch.
A new logo – which confusingly looks like a lot of other Google logos – has appeared on some devices running beta Android builds, with some testers receiving emails that their device has been located using the new Find My Device network. Those emails also contain a link to a Google support page, which tells you more about how the device-finding system will work.
And more recently, Android tester Mishaal Rahman revealed some screenshots (below) that show what the ‘Unknown tracker alerts’ interface will look like. Crucially, this system is boosted by a recent agreement between Apple and Google to combat stalking from AirTags and other trackers, which you can see in the screenshots.
There’s an option for a ‘Manual scan’ to check for any trackers that are near you, whatever the manufacturer of the tracker is. You can also toggle an option to ‘Allow alerts’, which need both Bluetooth and device location tracking to be turned on.
Here are some screenshots of Android’s soon-to-be-released unknown tracker alerts feature, which alerts you of potentially unwanted tracker tags near you.Screenshots: @AssembleDebug pic.twitter.com/zoMM8Iw1vpJune 26, 2023
While it’s been possible to get alerts from Find My Device previously, these haven’t been based on the new network rolling out soon that Google says in its official blog post will “harness over a billion Android devices across the world to help you locate your missing belongings like headphones, tracker tags, or even your phone via Bluetooth proximity”.
We don’t yet know exactly when the new Find My Device will roll out, but these hints suggest Google is gearing up to do it soon. That said, it will likely come in the form of a bigger announcement than a simple firmware update, so we’ll let you know as soon as that happens.
Analysis: A major update for Android and the forgetful
There are still a lot of unknowns about Google’s rebooted Find My Device network. For example, when will updated third-party trackers become available? Will Google launch its rumored own AirTag rival, which is apparently codenamed Grogu? And will Android devices have the feature or alerts turned on by default, or will it be an opt-in system that could slow down its rollout?
Those questions will be answered soon as Google has promised a launch “later this summer”, which should mean either July or August at the latest. Both the new Find My Device and ‘Unknown tracker alerts’ are huge features, with the latter being an essential one given that Apple’s AirTags have been plagued by reports of stalking, which led to it rolling out an apologetic firmware update in February 2022.
As for the feature’s real-world experience, Google previously used the example of accidentally leaving your headphones at the gym. Once this ‘Find My Device’ update rolls out, you’ll be able to use other nearby Android devices to find them, even when the headphones are offline.
And because the system will work with third-party Bluetooth trackers, like those from Chipolo, Tile, and more, you should also be able to use updated versions of those to keep an eye on your holiday luggage or bicycle, too.