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Google Holds Back Expansive 'Find My Device' Network Citing User Safety Concerns

Google delays the broad expansion of its Find My Device feature to ensure personal safety as its anti-tracking specification with Apple isn’t ready yet.

Google Delays 'Find My Device' Network Expansion

Google has decided to postpone the large-scale rollout of its Find My Device feature to prioritize user safety. The company is waiting for the development and implementation of an industry-standard specification to prevent unwanted location tracking, proposed in collaboration with Apple. Erik Kay from Google stated that the company decided to hold off on the rollout of the Find My Device network until Apple has implemented protections for iOS.

In case you're not up-to-date, Google revealed its plan during its I/O 2023 keynote to use millions of current Android devices to assist users in locating their lost devices. This includes phones, compatible accessories, and a new generation of Bluetooth item trackers. The feature is akin to Apple’s Find My network, with the rollout originally planned for this summer.

However, Google is now waiting for Apple to incorporate native alerts for unknown trackers in iOS. While Apple already has this feature for its AirTags, the same alerts are expected to identify trackers compatible with Google’s Find My Device network. Google has not yet released a new timeline for the introduction of this extensive tracking network.

Google and Apple initially announced their aim to launch a working specification for unwanted tracking alerts by the end of 2023, supported by future versions of iOS and Android. This means Google's original target for the launch of its comprehensive Find My Device network may have been a bit too ambitious.

Starting this month, Google has announced that many Android phones will begin warning users when an unknown AirTag is detected, separated from its owner and traveling with them. This notification system is built-in at the system level and won't require any separate app downloads.

Moreover, Google is introducing a feature that allows users to manually scan for nearby trackers via the 'Unknown tracker alerts' section under 'Safety & emergency' settings. This privacy and safety feature will be available for phones running Android 6 (Marshmallow) and later versions via a software update to Google Play Services.