You can now track Apple AirTags with your Android phone, but there's a catch
Tracking devices have become increasingly popular since Apple launched AirTags earlier this year. They are similar to Tile trackers, with a simple premise -- you can easily link them to your Apple account, and it will use Apple's Find My network to Find them. As soon as your AirTag is near someone's iPhone, you can see where it is. Now you don't even need a device to do it, as Apple has released an official app to track AirTags on Android devices. There is, however, a rather important caveat.
Tracker Detect is one of the few Apple apps available on Android, along with Apple Music, the Beats app, and an app that can be ported to iOS.You can use it to track nearby rogue AirTags, and if you want to find one, you can use this app to play sounds. From there, you can scan the AirTag using NFC, or remove the battery to disable it.
While it's simple, its functionality is also basic. It doesn't have automatic scanning, which means you have to launch the app specifically to search for tags, and you won't get notifications of nearby missing AirTags like you would on the iPhone.You could argue that this makes the Tracker Detect app a bit useless -- many people agreed in the comments section that the app should be able to scan automatically. Manually scanning AirTags around you every 5 minutes is not the most efficient way to spend your day.
There's no barrier to doing this on An Android phone -- it's just Bluetooth Low Power (BLE). Allowing non-Apple devices to automatically scan AirTags and contribute them to Apple's Find My network would also greatly improve the success rate of locating AirTags, especially outside the US. Still, I guess some is better than nothing.
In a statement to CNET, Apple noted that enhanced privacy is the main purpose of the new app: "Tracker Detect enables Android users to scan AirTag or find me enabled item trackers that they may be carrying around without their knowledge. We are raising the privacy bar for users and the industry in the hope that others will follow."
If you want to scan AirTags with your Android phone, you can download the app from the Google Play Store right now.