Apple possessions are great for tracking possessions in case they are lost, but they have a dark side and people can be tracked without their knowledge. Get an AirTag detector for Android phones.
AirTags are designed for tracking objects, not people, but some people have found AirTags in bags, coats, cars and other places. They could be put there by jealous or controlling partners who want to track your movement and see where you go. They may also be placed on you or things you own, like a car, buy thieves who want to know where you live.
AirTags are useful, but they can also be misused and because of this, some people are calling for Apple to withdraw them from sale. That is a bit extreme, but some people are really worried by them.
The devices are designed to work with Apple phones, tablets and computers. An iPhone for example, can scan for nearby AirTags and any that do not belong to you can easily be detected. What if you have an Android phone?
There are apps for Android phones that can be used to detect AirTags in your immediate vicinity, such as if you are being surreptitiously tracked by someone. There is even an official Android app made by Apple. There are also other apps that claim to detect AirTags, but are they any good? Here I look at four AirTag detector apps for Android.
If you are testing an app to see if it can locate Apple AirTags, be aware that tags are not in tracking mode unless they are completely disconnected from an Apple device for some time. If there is an Apple device nearby, the AirTag is not trackable.
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Air Tracker – Bluetooth Finder
Price: Free | By: Maple Labs co | Size: 65 MB | Android: 6 and up
Air Tracker promises to find your lost Bluetooth devices. It does not specifically mention Apple AirTags, but it does track anything that uses Bluetooth.
The free app is heavy on advertising, and it constantly pesters you to pay to upgrade, which is a bit annoying. It constantly scans and updates a list of devices found. There is an option in the app settings to ignore unknown Bluetooth devices, and this is useful because it listed dozens when I tried it. I was near a car park, so maybe it was picking up cars’ Bluetooth.
Filter out unknown devices and it displays a short list of devices it can identify. These can be computers, watches, phones, portable speakers, wireless earbuds and so on. A slight irritation is that it displays previously used devices that you connect to, even if they are not in range, like your laptop at work, headphones at home and so on. It does label those devices in range, but there is really no need to show those not in range.
The free version of the app does not show the distance to the Bluetooth device and you need to pay for that, so it is of limited use unless you upgrade. The Premium version costs £4.29 a month. It is OK if you want to find various Bluetooth devices, but it is not specifically an AirTag detector.
AirTag Tracker Detect Lite
Price: Free | By: Air Tech Studio | Size: 9.5 MB | Android: 5 and up
AirTag Tracker look great and appears to work brilliantly, but I have my doubts. The reason is that it finds AirTags when the official Apple app does not. It even found AirTags within 0.16m away from me. It would have to be on or next to my body.
There are filters and the app can show only AirTags, Apple Devices and Others. It finds a lot of devices and after some turning some devices around me off and on, I found that it was labelling any Apple device as an AirTag. This means that an iPhone and MacBook were listed as AirTags. This is not useful.
The Lite version is fully working, but has a limited number of scans each day. I couldn’t see how many listed anywhere and I must have scanned a dozen times before it just stopped and said come back tomorrow for more scans. The full version is £3.99.
AirGuard – AirTag protection
Price: Free | By: Secure Mobile Networking | Size: 8.2 MB | Android: 5 and up
AirGuard is from Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany and is part of a research study, so it is free and contains no ads. You can choose to participate in the study by providing anonymous data if you want. You can opt out if you don’t. It is an interesting AirTag detector.
The app needs to be allowed to run in the background and this is so that it can periodically scan for trackers automatically through the day as you move around. However, if a tracker is in your car and you only use it for short trips, an automatic scan may not pick it up. It is about 35 minutes between scans, so a short trip could miss the tracked.
A button in the app enables you to perform a manual scan at any time, such as when you get into a car, and the results are shown after 30 seconds or so.
The home screen of the app has useful information, such as the tracking risk at the top. No risk in a green panel is OK, but High risk in a red panel is a warning that one or more trackers were detected. There are information panels describing how AdGuard works and what to do if you get a notification from it.
The app scans for more than AirTags and it can find other types of trackers too. It is one to try if you want to know whether there are trackers around you, or if you want to take part in the research study.
Price: Free | By: Apple | Size: 20 MB | Android: 9 and up
Tracker Detect is the official Apple app for Android and it is designed to be an AirTag detector for non-Apple users and show AirTags around you. It has probably been created as a response to the creepy tracking use that is possible and Android phone users need to know if they are being tracked.
There isn’t much to the app and it has a very simple interface. Just tap the button to scan and wait a minute until it has finished.
It tells you if there are unknown AirTags around you. If there are, there is a button to make it play a sound. You can also learn ore about the tracker, such as the serial number. There are instructions showing how to remove the AirTag’s battery to disable it.
There is no automatic mode, so you must manually scan, such as when you are out, in your car, and so on. Apart from that, it’s fine.
Two apps stand out as good AirTag detectors and Apple’s app is clearly one to have on your Android phone if you are worried about trackers hidden in your car, bag, coat and so on. However, it is manual only and you must remember to run it and scan several times a day.
AirGuard scans automatically in the background and you can check it at the end of the day to see whether you have been tracked. In fact, you can install it and forget it and it will notify you if anything is ever found. It doesn’t scan all the time, so you could be near a tracker for a short period of time between scans, but it is still useful.
Reviews of these two apps in the Google Play Store are mixed, with some saying that they work perfectly and others saying they don’t work at all. I suspect that some of the reviews saying they don’t work are because the AirTags are not in lost mode. They need to be out of range of the owner’s Apple devices for at least 15 minutes. You can’t test the apps in the home if there are Apple devices there because the tags are not lost.