Google may add Bluetooth tracker detection capabilities to Android

jsilva

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In brief: With Tile and Apple trackers becoming increasingly popular, we expect Google will eventually launch a direct response to them. The company hasn't publicly talked about releasing its own tracker or equivalent, but a newly found APK named Insight suggests it's working on it.

The first time the Insight APK was spotted was in mid-March, but its purpose wasn't clear. After decompiling and examining the latest version, users found multiple lines of code referencing "tags," suggesting this APK would be responsible for adding Bluetooth tracker detection capabilities to Android devices.

Insight version 22.12.13 features a couple of lines commented with "Unfamiliar device alerts" and an "Unfamiliar Tag Detected Notification" for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) tags.

These strings are followed by three others that seem to refer to the compatible tags: ATag, Finder tag, and Tile tag. We assume the first is the Apple AirTag, and the last is the Tile tags. As for the middle one, it's unclear what "Finder" is, but we would bet it is either an unannounced Google product or a general-purpose entry for tags not recognized by the system.

The last line of code referring to tags reads "You may not be able to ring the tag if its id has changed recently," suggesting you'll be able to ring the tag after pairing it with your Android device.

We won't likely see Google's tracking app/devices coming any time soon. Still, it's nice to see the Google ecosystem may have a tracking technology similar to Apple's in the future. Whether it will detect the tags automatically or manually, it will be a useful addition to Android's feature set.

Despite being quite helpful in tracking lost devices, some bad actors have been using this technology to stalk people without their consent or mark and track cars to be stolen. Apple has already launched a patch to fix some flaws of its tags, but those with disabled speakers are still an unresolved issue.

Image credit: Daniel Romero

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