In general, Apple and Google are fierce competitors, especially in the smartphone business with their competing iOS and Android operating systems. Today, the two companies temporarily put down their pitchforks to announce a joint venture aimed at combating unwanted tracking of wireless devices.
Apple’s press release states:
Today Apple and Google jointly released 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 sync with unauthorized tracking detection and alerts on iOS and Android platforms.
Apple has its AirTag device that helps people locate lost luggage or other personal items. However, ever since the device was launched, it has been used to track real people. In 2022, Apple introduced some safeguards to prevent AirTags from being used to track humans. Today’s joint announcement with Google appears to be an extension of those efforts. Other companies that make their own Bluetooth tracking devices, including Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee, “have expressed support for the draft specification,” the press release said. Hopefully, this means they will incorporate the new rules into future products.
Apple and Google will submit a draft of their unwanted wireless tracking specifications to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Businesses and groups interested in the draft will be able to comment on it, and Apple and Google will take that feedback and make any changes to the draft. The plan is to submit the final specifications by the end of 2023, after which they will be included in future updates for iOS and Android.