What's called Grogu but isn't that cute? Google's leaked answer to Apple AirTags
Rumored product looks like part of a larger effort to compete with Cupertino's Find My network
Google leaks point to the Android maker working on an Apple AirTags competitor, news of which could indicate a broader effort to compete with Apple's Find My network.
The product, which is reportedly code named "grogu" after the The Mandalorian character, will allegedly offer many of the features of AirTags, like Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Ultra Wide Band (UWB), and will sport an onboard speaker, leaker Kuba Wojciechowski said on Twitter.
The grogu tags, which Wojciechowski claimed are also being referred to as "groguaudio" and "GR10," are reportedly being developed by the Nest team, though Wojciechowski said that doesn't mean they'll launch as a Nest product.
Wojciechowski, who has previously leaked news about Google Pixel device cameras, said that references to grogu were discovered alongside the discovery of locator tags coming to Google's Fast Pair BLE pairing protocol.
UWB is a preferred technology for locating objects because of its enhanced precision over BLE, and has already been in smartphones (including Google's) since 2019. Apple has included UWB in its iPhones since the 11 series, and the technology is also used in AirTags.
Wojciechowski noted that Pixel 6 Pro and 7 Pro devices include UWB support, but that the modules haven't been used until now. Google is reportedly bringing UWB to some of its other devices, like Nest home speakers. Trackers, especially if they're being developed by the Nest team alongside other UWB projects, would also indicate Google plans more use of the locator tech in the future.
UWB isn't required, though. "Even though Google's tracker most likely has UWB, it's not a requirement for the 'Finder Network' they're working on – BLE is enough," Wojciechowski said.
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More location data for the Googleverse
Apple's Find My network and its AirTag trackers have been undeniably successful – sometimes even working too well. AirTags have been accessories to murder, used by stalkers to track victims, and reportedly had safety features that were easily bypassed.
Obviously, Google can't let Apple have all that data for itself.
Along with the grogu leak, Google's system patch notes from December indicated that Google's own Find My Device network, so far limited in comparison to Apple's Find My network, "now supports encrypted last-known-location reports for Android devices, using a new privacy centric framework."
That, Google watchers say, could indicate a wider Find My Device network rollout that would function like Apple's Find My, enabling Android devices to pick up signals broadcast via UWB and BLE to track missing devices.
As for when grogu tags could appear on the market, Wojciechowski doesn't have any information about that. "If I had to guess I'd say Google's gonna announce the technology at Google I/O and then launch it at the annual fall event, alongside new Google Pixel devices," Wojciechowski said.
We've asked Google for comment. ®