Dec 15, 2021
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Apple AirTag Android App is Absolutely Awful—Tracker Detect Fail

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Apple is proud to announce its anti-stalking app for Android. The Tracker Detect app lets Android users scan for malicious, hidden AirTag trackers placed by stalkers, thieves and other bad people. Sounds great, right? Except …
“Tracker Detect is a big disappointment,” says the editor of MacWorld. In tests, the app didn’t actually detect trackers. And it can’t actually use a legitimate AirTag.
Good grief. In today’s SB Blogwatch, we get lost.
Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: The Song Society.
What’s the craic? Igor Bonifacic reports—“Apple releases Tracker Detect to protect Android users from AirTags stalkers”:
Multiple incidents of bad actors abusing AirTags
Apple has released Tracker Detect, a new Android app designed to help those without an iOS device to find out if someone is using [a] Find My-compatible device to snoop their location. … You’ll get instructions on how to remove its battery or otherwise disable it.

The release of Tracker Detect comes following multiple incidents of bad actors abusing AirTags to stalk people. In Canada, for example, police recently warned of thieves using the $29 device to steal expensive cars.

“AirTag provides industry-leading privacy and security features. … Tracker Detect gives Android users the ability to scan for … trackers that might be traveling with them without their knowledge,” an Apple spokesperson [said].

Wait. Pause. This is a Thing? Ian Sherr has background—“Apple’s following through on a promise to help Android users”:
It didn’t offer support for other phones
Privacy advocates warned earlier this year that Apple AirTags could be used as a way to track and stalk people. Critics noted that … it likely has greater reach than any other device tracking service. They also noted that Apple built proactive warnings about nearby AirTags into its iPhones, but that it didn’t offer support for other phones.

Oh! Well, I bet Eva Galperin—@evacide—will be happy:
I have to go put it through its paces
When Apple launched the AirTag earlier this year, its anti-stalking mitigations included a warning if a strange AirTag was traveling with you, but there was no way to get the warning if you had an Android. Now there is.

This was a really serious oversight that put people in danger and I’m glad Apple has fixed it. Now I have to go put it through its paces and see if it works correctly.

Unfortunately, it’s garbage. Or so Michael Simon says—“It’s pretty terrible”:
A big disappointment
Tracker Detect is a somewhat useless app. … It’s only designed to help Android users spot unknown trackers, not actually use one. … And it’s not very good at the one thing it’s supposed to do.

The results are fairly hit or miss. When I scanned for nearby trackers, it found a Chipolo One Spot, which is integrated into Find My, but didn’t locate the AirTag that was right next to it. The second time I scanned it didn’t find either item.

Tracker Detect is a big disappointment. … It’s not going to stop many people from surveilling Android users with hidden trackers.

And Koinu is really confused by this:
Render AirTags pretty useless
I’m really confused by this.

Someone steals something of mine that has an AirTag attached, what now prevents the thief from using this App … to determine that the object has my Tag on it … then remove and destroy it? Wouldn’t thieves now routinely do this to find out if something they’ve taken has an AirTag attached?

This would seem to render AirTags pretty useless for their whole intended purpose.

Is it too cynical to suggest Apple will be tracking Android users now? Methinks Baron_Yam doth protest:
Better at being evil
It’s not cynicism. Apple will absolutely require your location data before it’ll scan. And they’ll keep it, conveniently tagged with whatever unique info they can get.

I’ve long since given up trying to figure out what they’ll do with this information—the people collecting [it] are generally better at being evil than I am at being paranoid.

It’s part of a broader release around a new iOS build. Here’s Mitchell Clark—“Apple releases iOS 15.2”:
Children get to choose
The update also brings with it some of Apple’s communication safety features, one of which will blur iMessages sent to children that an on-device scan tags as potentially being explicit. The feature was part of Apple’s controversial suite of changes meant to fight child sexual abuse material (CSAM), which involved on-device scanning of photos uploaded to iCloud, as well as automatically notifying parents if their child chose to view pictures tagged as inappropriate.

iOS 15.2 also brings changes to Safari and Siri that will redirect users to resources if they search for topics related to CSAM. … Apple has since delayed the photo library scanning feature and has made it so that children get to choose whether to notify their parents.

Or, as Christina Warren—@film_girl—quips:
Good news: The iMessage nudes feature will no longer narc you out to your mom!

Meanwhile, Pierre Pants is unimpressed with the Apple PR:
It’s a business. Their effort is to make money, not to “boost privacy.” Do **** off, please.

Smoooootthh Jaaaaaaaazzz
Previously in And Finally
You have been reading SB Blogwatch by Richi Jennings. Richi curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites … so you don’t have to. Hate mail may be directed to @RiCHi or [email protected]. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE. 30.
Image sauce: Mika Baumeister (via Unsplash)
Richi Jennings is a foolish independent industry analyst, editor, and content strategist. A former developer and marketer, he’s also written or edited for Computerworld, Microsoft, Cisco, Micro Focus, HashiCorp, Ferris Research, Osterman Research, Orthogonal Thinking, Native Trust, Elgan Media, Petri, Cyren, Agari, Webroot, HP, HPE, NetApp on Forbes and CIO.com. Bizarrely, his ridiculous work has even won awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors, ABM/Jesse H. Neal, and B2B Magazine.
richi has 310 posts and counting.See all posts by richi

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