searching for bluetooth location tracker on android

How to Search for Unknown Location Trackers on Android?

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Google has been working on a way to detect if someone is tracking your location. This is usually done with a product like an Apple AirTag or a Tile tracker. . .but there are a number of these devices on the market today. While there is still some work to be done, Android now has a way to detect if a tracker has been separated from its owner and seems to be traveling with you.

At Google I/O 2023, the company announced a handful of features coming to Android that help keep you and your devices safe. One of these new features is a way to detect if a location tracker is in your immediate area. It took them a couple of months to launch this for the public but an early version is now available on all smartphones running Android 6.0 and higher.

tile bluetooth location tracker

What is a Location Tracker?

A location tracker is a device that can be used to find or track the location of someone or something. These products were initially marketed as a way to find your keys but since then we’ve seen them used for all sorts of things including a way to find where your lost luggage is, locating your TV remote, and even keeping an eye on where your pet has wandered off to.

Sadly, these have also been abused over the years by those who want to stalk someone.

How Do Location Trackers Work?

Devices like the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag+ work by leveraging UWB (Ultra-Wideband) features. This is a radio technology that are able to use a very small amount of electricity for short-range, high-bandwidth communications. We’ve had companies use this for all sorts of things including autonomous vehicles, transferring data, radar systems, and even robotics.

This technology was previously known as pulse radio but the FCC and the ITU-R currently define UWB as “an antenna transmission for which emitted signal bandwidth exceeds the lesser of 500 MHz or 20% of the arithmetic center frequency.” This allows for data to be sent by generating radio energy at specific time intervals.

There’s more to it than this brief summary, but you can learn more about UWB tech if you’d like.

searching for an unknown location tracker on android

How to Search for an Unknown Location Tracker with Android?

Google and Apple have been working together in an attempt to create an industry specification for location trackers. So far, other companies including Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee have also expressed interest for the initial draft, but support for those devices have yet to be implemented.

As of writing this article, Android’s unknown location tracker can only be used to find Apple AirTag devices. If this changes in the future, I’ll be sure to update this article with additional details.

Anyone with an Android smartphone or tablet running version 6.0 or higher can find out if a location tracker is following them. However, this implementation is very early and could result in some trackers being unable to be detected. For example, this will not find anything unless the tracker has become “separated from its owner and is determined to be traveling with you.”

This launch is a big first step, though, and will result in you getting an alert when one of them has been detected.

All of this work is done in the background (assuming the feature is enabled on your device) but we can manually scan for an unknown tracker at any time.

  1. Launch the Settings application.
  2. Scrolling down and then tapping the “Safety & Emergency” menu.
  3. Now look for the “Unknown Tracker Alerts” feature and select it.
    • Alternatively, you could search for the word “tracker” at the top of the Settings app.
  4. From here, you will see a big “Scan Now” button to press.

It will take a few seconds (about 10) for Android to perform the scan. If everything goes well, you’ll be told there are no trackers detected. But if there is one near you that has been determined to be traveling with you (and is separated from the owner) then you’ll see some details here.

With the help of your smartphone or tablet, you should be able to find the location tracker. Then, if you touch the device to your smartphone you will be given some details of who owns it (like the last four digits of their phone number). You are unlikely to be told the name of the owner, but those details may help you find out who purchased and activated the tracker.

Video Demonstration


There is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to detecting these tiny location tracking devices. Google and Apple have made a lot of progress so far and with the help of other companies like Samsung, Tile, and others, we should see these instances of stalking reduced in the future.

There doesn’t seem to be a way of stopping bad actors from abusing this type of technology, but giving all iOS and Android devices a way to detect these unknown Bluetooth trackers is a great first step.

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