There are now Bluetooth tags for the 3 billion-strong Android tracking network
Google has developed an interest in the Bluetooth tracker sector with the introduction of Apple’s AirTags. Using the 3 billion active Android handsets, the business has already discreetly launched what must be the largest Bluetooth tracking network in the world, and now trackers are beginning to connect to that network. Since that «Find My Device» is a fairly derivative moniker for the Android Bluetooth monitoring network, Google is adopting an ecosystem strategy and allowing a variety of businesses to connect to it.
Even though they lack GPS, these Bluetooth trackers can nonetheless function as global GPS trackers and identify objects considerably farther away from their current location. They are excellent for finding misplaced car keys on a disorganized desk. Since Bluetooth device IDs are made available to the public, Tile invented the «Tile Network,» a system for crowdsourcing Bluetooth tracker locations. Every phone running the Tile app checks Bluetooth devices in the background and publishes their most recent position to the cloud using the phone’s GPS. Only the Tile owner has access to this location information, but every Tile user works to scan their surroundings and upload any Tiles they come across.
Although Tile enjoys a respectable level of popularity, it is still dwarfed by our preferred smartphone oligopolies, Apple and Google. When Apple introduced AirTags and distributed a bluetooth tracking network to the majority of the 1.8 billion existing Apple products, it completely changed the industry. Although Tile might function consistently in congested areas like airports, you’ll almost certainly never be more than a few hundred feet from an iPhone at any given moment, making for a much more practical global tracking network.
Google intends to replicate the situation as usual, thus in December 2022 it added crowdsourced location to Android’s «Find My Device» network. With the update, anyone’s phone would be able to upload the location of your devices, whereas before only you could report their last known location. Although Android is poor at delivering OS upgrades, this one came via Google Play Services, a simple program that is downloaded from the Play Store. This means that the crowdsourced tracking network update was distributed to all 3 billion active Android phones over night. Only Android phones could be tracked; Bluetooth tags were not tracked.
For the Android network, third-party bluetooth trackers are now beginning to come. Chipolo and Pebblebee, two businesses that have recently unveiled goods, appear to be direct copies of the Tile product line. Both provide standard credit card-sized trackers and standard keychain tags. Making fully disposable items is one of Tile’s worst practices because the batteries can’t be changed, but it appears that our clones have largely avoided this. The Chipolo keychain tracker includes a changeable CR2032 battery, which is fantastic, but all of Pebblebee’s Find My Device products are rechargeable. The only disposable item is the Chipolo wallet tracker (boo!).
Together with your Android phones, headphones, and other network-connected devices, all of these marks will appear in the Find My Device app. Like regular phones, they feature a speaker so you can make them ring when you’re close by. Both product bundles are now available for preorder.
Despite the fact that both of these businesses support the Google and Apple networks, they must produce unique iterations of the same product for each network, which is kind of absurd. Chipolo is a very odd company that offers three different product lines: one that integrates with their own proprietary apps, one that integrates with Apple’s Find My Network, and one that integrates with Google’s Find My Device Network. Can’t we just combine this? Can’t Google and Apple just standardize the hardware support since they have teamed up to try to fight malicious applications of these tracking devices with a joint standard? Just Bluetooth, then!
Despite not yet connecting to either of these networks, Google blog post predicts that Tile will soon become a part of Find My Device. Tile, which is being eaten alive by Big Tech, will eventually join. According to rumors, Google is also preparing its own Bluetooth tracker for the future.