How Does AirTag Tracking Actually Work?

  • AirTags rely solely on Bluetooth and nearby iPhones for connectivity.
  • There is a built-in speaker that can chime to help find the lost item.
  • AirTags only work with Apple devices at this time.
second generation airtags

The AirTag is one of Apple’s best inventions of the last decade, but few people recognize just how groundbreaking these devices are. They are small enough to be used on a keychain or as a luggage tag while containing a surprising amount of computer power. Now, find out how these little devices manage to keep track of your stuff without you being nearby.

What Type of Connectivity Does AirTag Use?

AirTags use Bluetooth technology to connect to nearby Apple devices. This is how the the devices connect for the initial setup as well for ongoing tracking. AirTags also take advantage of NFC connectivity to help get your lost item back. It allows you to relay a message to someone else with a compatible NFC device. This message will appear to anyone who taps the AirTag after it is placed in “Lost Mode.”

How Do AirTags Work?

An AirTag is simply a tiny computer powered by a watch battery that connects to an Apple device for location tracking. The AirTag relies on Apple’s U1 processor, which consumes a minuscule amount of power and allows the device to be powered on at all times. There is also a small speaker inside that you can use to help find a missing AirTag.

Because AirTags only use Bluetooth connectivity, they rely on another Apple devices in the vicinity. The amazing thing about AirTags is that they can connect through any nearby Apple device without anyone even noticing. The AirTag will essentially report its location through a stranger’s phone, which allows its location to show up on your Find My app.

Apple has gone to great lengths to ensure that the entire process is anonymous and secure through encryption. But Apple has one more trick up its sleeve, and that is the ability to scan a found AirTag. Anyone with an Android or Apple phone can tap a found AirTag to get in contact with the owner.

How Far Away Does AirTag Work?

Because AirTags rely on Bluetooth technology, they must be within 30 feet of an Apple device for tracking to work. Of course, you should be much closer during the initial setup to ensure seamless connectivity. An AirTag will continue providing real-time updates as long as an Apple device remains in range.

Once it loses connectivity, the Find My app will show the last known location. For instance, if you drop your keys while on a run, the AirTag likely won’t show up since no one is nearby. However, you can put the AirTag in “Lost Mode,” which will send you a notification the next time someone with an Apple device passes it and pings its location.

Does AirTag Work Without Internet?

How to Fix AirTag Not Showing Up in Find My App on iPhone

AirTags do not connect directly to the internet via WiFi. However, they do rely on an Apple device that must be connected to the internet. The AirTag connects to a nearby Apple device via Bluetooth and the Apple device uses its internet signal to automatically update the AirTag’s location in the Find My app.

Can Other People See My AirTag?

A common question that comes up is whether or not other people can access your AirTag’s location. No one can see or track your AirTag. AirTags do have a feature that allows a good samaritan to tap an AirTag they found and receive a pre-determined message. To take advantage of this feature, the owner first has to enable “Lost Mode” and then enter a message for the finder.

Do AirTags Have Rechargeable Batteries?

AirTag Battery

The AirTag is one of the few Apple devices that do not use a rechargeable battery. Instead, it uses a CR2032 coin battery, which is commonly found in watches and other small electronics. The good news is that these batteries can last upwards of two years, and a replacement is only a couple of dollars. Your Apple device will display a push notification when the battery gets low and requires replacing.

What Does “AirTag Detected Near You” Mean?

It’s not uncommon for an iPhone owner to receive a message that says “AirTag Detected Near You,” even if they don’t own an AirTag. This message is simply a warning that an AirTag is near them and could be tracking their movements. It lets the recipient know that someone may have slipped an AirTag in their car or luggage and is attempting to track their location.

While it is nice that Apple created this alert system, the message usually stems from being near someone who has an AirTag. For instance, the person staying next to you in a hotel room has one in their luggage, or someone attending the same meeting as you has one on their keys.

How to Know Whether AirTag Is Tracking You

Apple iPhone owners will receive a push notification that states, “AirTag Detected Near You.” However, people who don’t have an iPhone will not be able to receive this warning. It is best to take precautionary steps such as locking your car doors and keeping your luggage with you at all times to avoid someone trying to track you with an AirTag.

Does AirTag Tracking Work With Android?

Tile and Apple AirTag

AirTags do not work with Android devices. Even the iCloud website does not support AirTag tracking like it does for other devices. Additionally, an Apple device is required to set up the trackers. Android owners can consider a third-party tracking solution, such as Tile.

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