According to new research, Google is working on a new Bluetooth tracker device to compete with Apple’s AirTags.
Since 2021, Google has included ultra-wideband (UWB) connectivity in its high-end “Pro” phones like the Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro. For now, the hardware has only been used for niche cases like unlocking a luxury car or sending files to a friend, but it’s been clear that Google intends for UWB to be used more often.
Last year, 9to5Google exclusively reported that Google was working on a new Nest speaker which would also be equipped with UWB, allowing you to quickly transfer music by moving your Pixel near the speaker. Meanwhile, for the last few years, Google has been putting significant effort into expanding the “Find My Device” app into something that can leverage the millions of current Android devices to locate lost/stolen devices.
In Apple’s ecosystem, one of the best ways to keep track of a device is to attach one of the company’s AirTags. These accessories put out Bluetooth and UWB signals which, when combined with the innumerable iPhones in service today, allow them to be located to within inches.
To build up its own “Finder Network,” compete with Apple AirTags, and potentially make UWB more useful on Pixel phones, Google is reportedly developing its own tracking accessory. The information comes courtesy of Android researcher and frequent Pixel leaker Kuba Wojciechowski.
The tracker is said to be in development under the codename “Grogu” — a reference to the popular Star Wars series “The Mandalorian” — alongside the alternate names “GR10” and “Groguaudio.” The only other tidbits that have been uncovered so far suggest that the Nest team is seemingly taking lead on the development and that the tracker may be available in multiple colors.
The “Groguaudio” codename suggests that Google’s tracker would potentially come equipped with a speaker. On Apple’s AirTags, a built-in speaker serves as both a privacy measure and a location aid, as if you move someone else’s AirTag after it’s been separated from them, it will beep. This is just one of many potential privacy issues that Google will need to work through before launching a tracker accessory like this one.
While Bluetooth trackers have been around for quite a few years, their accuracy and sudden ubiquity has led to valid concerns about how to know if an unwanted tracker has been planted on your property. To that end, last year we reported that Google was working on “Unfamiliar device alerts” that would have your Android phone notify you of any trackers nearby.
It’s impossible to say at this point when Google’s first-party tracker would launch or how long it’s been in development. Considering we currently expect the UWB-equipped Nest Audio successor to launch either fall 2023 or spring 2024, it’s possible that a tracker with similar UWB support may launch in one of those same windows.
The post Google reportedly working on ‘Grogu’ tracker to compete with Apple’s AirTags first appeared on 9to5google.com