Google’s new safety update for Android
to detect unwanted Bluetooth tiles has started reaching smartphones and we’re going to show you how to activate it.
To give a quick refresher of the situation, bad actors have been reported using Bluetooth trackers, like Apple AirTags, as an inexpensive way to stalk people. The method is someone places a tag on a mark, then they follow the device on their smartphone while the other person is none the wiser. After the news broke, Apple and Google announced they were teaming up to tackle this serious security problem. This patch is the latest piece of protection to come out from this collaboration.
How to activate Unknown tracker alerts
Activating the detection tool is pretty simple. Start by opening your phone’s Settings app then scroll down. If your device is running Android 12 or newer, tap “Safety & Emergency”. 9to5Google states in their report that smartphones running Android 11 or older must select “Personal Safety” instead. Scroll to the bottom again where you should see a new entry titled “Unknown tracker alerts”.
Tap the entry and you will be taken to the Unknown tracker alerts menu. The Allow Alerts switch will be turned on by default. Moving forward, your Android phone will periodically scan its surroundings for any unknown Bluetooth tiles placed on or near you. If it finds anything, it will notify you. There is also an indicator telling you when it last detected a mysterious tracker. Alerts will automatically be deleted after 48 hours.
Down at the bottom is a Scan Now button. Pressing it will prompt your phone to manually check the area around you. Manual scans last ten seconds. Be aware results will not be saved.
The page for Unknown tracker alerts has a couple of links connecting to an Android Help page informing people what will happen if they do encounter an unwanted Bluetooth tile. According to the post, the phone will display a map telling the user where the tracker was first detected and the path both of you took. Additionally, tapping the on-screen Play Sound button will cause it to make noise so you locate the offending gadget more easily
Google will even offer some advice on what to do next like calling the police if you feel unsafe plus instructions on how to disable the tracker.
Currently, the update can only search for Apple AirTags. It’s ineffective against tiles from other brands although third-party companies have voiced their support for this technology. One day, this tech could expand to cover something like the Samsung Galaxy Tag, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
9to5Google claims they’re only seeing this patch on Pixel and Samsung mobile devices. However, we used a OnePlus Nord N20 5G to check out the tool, so there’s a good chance the update is a lot more widespread than initially thought.
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to install the latest Android patch to get this security feature.
This post originally appeared on TechToday.