Google is developing a new Bluetooth tracker device to compete with Apple’s AirTags, according to new research.
Google has included ultra-wideband (UWB) connectivity in its high-end “Pro” phones, such as the Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro, since 2021. For the time being, the hardware has only been used in niche cases such as unlocking a luxury car or sending files to a friend, but Google has made it clear that UWB will be used more frequently.
Google exclusively revealed that it was working on a new Nest speaker that would also include UWB, allowing you to quickly transfer music by moving your Pixel close to the speaker. Meanwhile, Google has been working hard over the last few years to expand the “Find My Device” app into something that can use the millions of current Android devices to locate lost/stolen devices.
One of the best ways to keep track of a device in Apple’s ecosystem is to attach one of the company’s AirTags. These accessories emit Bluetooth and UWB signals, which, when combined with the numerous iPhones in use today, allow them to be pinpointed to within inches.
The tracker is said to be in the works under the codename “Grogu,” which is a play on the popular Star Wars series “The Mandalorian,” as well as the alternate names “GR10” and “Groguaudio.” The only other tidbits that have surfaced so far indicate that the Nest team is taking the lead on development and that the tracker may be available in a variety of colours.
Google is reportedly developing its own tracking accessory in order to compete with Apple AirTags and potentially make UWB more useful on Pixel phones. Kuba Wojciechowski, an Android researcher and frequent Pixel leaker, provided the information.
The “Groguaudio” codename implies that Google’s tracker could include a speaker. A built-in speaker on Apple’s AirTags serves as both a privacy measure and a location aid, as it will beep if you move someone else’s AirTag after it has been separated from them. This is just one of many potential privacy issues that Google must address before releasing a tracker accessory like this one.
While Bluetooth trackers have been around for a while, their accuracy and sudden ubiquity has raised legitimate concerns about how to tell if an unwanted tracker has been planted on your property. To that end, we reported last year that Google was working on “unfamiliar device alerts,” which would alert you if any trackers were nearby.
At this point, it’s impossible to say when or how long Google’s first-party tracker will be available. Given that the UWB-equipped Nest Audio successor is expected to launch in either the fall of 2023 or the spring of 2024, it’s possible that a tracker with similar UWB support will launch in one of those same timeframes. Source