Tile has largely dodged the criticism Apple has received for the privacy concerns its AirTag trackers pose, quietly staying in the background as the tech giant scrambles to release features that could mitigate the risk of stalking. Now Tile is being more proactive, taking similar measures to prevent fingers from pointing in its direction.
Tile is pushing out a “Scan and Secure” feature to its app this week, which will allow users to scan and view any unwanted trackers hiding nearby. The feature is similar to the app that Apple offers to Android users and will arrive as a free addition to the Tile app on both iOS and Android.
The app should, to some extent, prevent its small tracking devices from being used for illegal activity, like stalking or stealing. But since the feature isn’t built into your mobile device, users annoyingly need to do their part by downloading the app and initiating a scan. That applies even to non-Tile customers who might want nothing to do with these trackers. At least you don’t need a Tile account.
“If you ever feel concerned that someone could be tracking you, we now offer a feature that allows you to determine if that tracking could be through a Tile product. Scan and Secure, which starts rolling out this week to anyone with the Tile app (even if you do not have a Tile account), will enable you to scan for unknown Tiles or Tile-enabled devices that may be traveling with you,” Tile wrote in a blog post.
To use the feature, you will need Bluetooth, Location Services, and Precise Location set to “On.” You can then initiate the scan but will have to walk or drive away from your original location before the feature starts to work. Once complete, the scan will spit out a report, revealing any sketchy tracking devices nearby.
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Privacy concerns around these helpful lost-item finders hit a fever pitch after the release of Apple’s AirTags. The company was criticized for failing to consider appropriate safeguards, and within months, reports sprouted of AirTags being used for stalking. Recent reports have also shown how AirTags are being used to steal cars.
The AirTags’ built-in notification system meant to alert users when a mysterious tracker is following them around failed in our own simulated stalking scenario. We didn’t receive any notification, despite the fact that the AirTags’ owner was away from the device and tracking our poor victim’s location (they knew about this, FWIW) the entire time.
As part of its effort to prevent AirTags from aiding in illegal activity, Apple now says it will partner with law enforcement to provide paired account details should police issue a subpoena or “valid request.” It now augments a beeping sound with an alert sent to your device, an addition made after AirTags were being sold on Etsy with their speakers removed.
We’re glad Tile is taking Apple’s lead, but users still need to be proactive about downloading these apps. For that reason, tracking devices like Tile and AirTags remain a serious privacy concern.