Android's Answer to AirTags is here. Time to switch!

    Wait, there’s another competitor. Who would have believed that Tile would pull such a card from its sleeve?

    If you go to the AirTag page on Apple’s website, and check the ‘System Requirements and Compatibility’ information, you’ll see this:

    • Apple ID
    • iPhone and iPod touch models with iOS 14.5 or later
    • iPad models with iPadOS 14.5 or later

    As you are already aware, I am a Pixel user, so it was the third item in the list above which convinced me to become an early adopter of AirTags. And even though Apple says the company designed the AirTag to track items, not people or pets, my plan was to do exactly that: attach it to my dog’s collar.

    When I asked Drance about parents using AirTags to track their small children (such as during an outing at an amusement park) or pets (we know you’re up to something shady, Fluffy) she was quick to stress that the company designed the AirTag to track items, not people or pets. If parents would like to safely track their young children, she suggests an Apple Watch with Family Setup might be a better choice. (source)

    My dog’s AirTag.

    When the AirTag arrived, I linked it to my iPad and immediately started testing it. Every time my wife would go on a longer walk with our dog, I would track them simultaneously on Google Maps and Apple ‘Find My’ app. To accomplish that, my wife would leave her iPhone behind and bring an Android that was sharing its GPS location with me.

    If she were to take the iPhone with her, it would be too easy for the tracker. My goal was to learn how the AirTag would perform when having to rely on other people’s iPhones to do its thing. And to my surprise, the first tests went very well. The ‘Find My’ app would show our dog about a block behind the Android GPS, which was expected and quite accurate if you ask me.

    However, on walks very early in the morning, I would completely lose track of my dog on the map. The same would happen in large and spacious parks. All of that was also expected, but sometimes it was not working, even when she had people around her. Android users, for sure. But that’s not all the problems I experienced.

    I don’t know why, but the AirTag alarm would go off every other day even when my dog and the iPad were close to each other. Extremely close to each other. I would be sitting on the couch reading something on the iPad, with my dog lying down by my side.

    That I could never fix, even after unpairing, resetting and parring again several times. It was so frustrating that I ended up destroying the AirTag. Relax, it’s not what you are thinking.

    Auto-generated description: An AirTag device has been opened to reveal its internal circuitry and battery.

    We had a trip coming up, and our dog would stay with a pet sitter, which meant she would inevitably face the ‘away from owner’ alarm. As for the ‘AirTag traveling with you’ alert, that’s okay, as I definitely would tell her about the tracker.

    Long story short, I decided to disable the speaker altogether. This would also solve the issue of the alarm going off when it wasn’t supposed to. Taking great care, as always, I went about the delicate process. Unfortunately, after the surgery, the AirTag refused to pair.

    That was the perfect timing to try the Chipolo Spot, which is compatible with Apple’s network. I bought a 4-pack, and guess what? One of them also had the alarm going off almost every day. Maybe it’s an issue with the iPad parring, since it never happened to the ones paired with my wife’s iPhone.

    Google’s Answer to AirTags

    A few days ago, I received an email from Google with the news I was expecting for a while and decided to buy new takers.

    Find My Device network is coming soon. 
    You’ll get a notification on your Android devices when this feature is turned on in 3 days. Until then, you can opt out of the network through Find My Device on the web. After the feature is on, you can manage device participation anytime through Find My Device settings on the device.

    How it works.
    Devices in the network use Bluetooth to scan for nearby items. If other devices detect your items, they’ll securely send the locations where the items were detected to Find My Device. Your Android devices will do the same to help others find their offline items when detected nearby.

    Of course, there are plenty of people using iPhones here in Europe, but Apple’s phone is only more popular than Androids in the United States. Android has a much larger market share worldwide, which translates to a potentially wider network for Google’s ‘Find My Device’ service when compared to Apple’s ‘Find My’. And that’s something I’m excited to test.

    I purchased another 4-pack, but this time it was a Chipolo Point. Point? What about the Spot? Okay, time to decode Chipolo product line.

    Be careful

    Similar to Tile, Chipolo already had its own network and was selling distinct tracker models, namely ONE, which resembles a circle, and Card, which resembles, well, a card.

    When Apple introduced the AirTags, Chipolo released compatible trackers, which they branded as Chipolo Spot. And now there’s the Chipolo Point, compatible with Google’s ‘Find My Device’ service. The appearance and form factor of the models are the same, no matter the network. So, always pay attention to what you are buying.

    The Future

    Life360, the parent company of Tile, which has never mentioned trackers compatible with Apple’s or Google’s networks, recently announced a GPS-Bluetooth network in partnership with Hubble Network. What‽

    I’ve never heard of this network or the technology before, and am interested to see how a satellite can pick up a Bluetooth signal from Earth. But besides the brief post and hyperbolic video published on Life360 website, there is not much said about anything else. And I have so many questions. For example, will there be a subscription? Will current Tiles work on this network? Does the satellite constellation currently exist?

    In any case, I’ll be taking good care of the Tile trackers I still have in my drawer. Except for that one. Yes, the one you might remember, mysteriously disappeared.

    Google Tasks is just too convenient not to use

    I had already moved my Evernote tasks to Obsidian with the help of the Tasks plugin, but I found out that Google Tasks was a better fit for my needs.

    Even though I don’t like tasks, if you check out my videos about Evernote Tasks, you’ll see that I had a system in place for birthdays, bills, and other paperwork for my company. For everything else, I always use Kanban boards.

    Similar to many other journeys I shared with you in the past, this one is also about experimenting and finding the best option for my specific needs. As I always say, it’s more important to create a good system that works for you than to try to find a magical app.

    Did you know?

    Although the Android and iOS apps were available from the very beginning, it used to be that the task drawer (1) was the only way to interact with your to-dos in a browser. That changed a while ago. You can also use Tasks as standalone application by clicking the icon at the top of the screen (2) or visiting

    All the features are identical, but the dedicated page is more visual. You can reorder lists or move tasks to different positions in a list or to different lists. It behaves more like a Kanban board, but that’s not the reason I switched to Google Tasks.

    Another important piece of information to keep in mind is that it doesn’t matter how many lists you create or delete; the first one provided by Google will always be the default list. You can rename or reorder it, but there’s no way to delete the default list. More on that latter.

    Why have I switched?

    There are many reasons. Let’s start with the fact that I have Google Assistant devices all over my home and office, and that makes it super easy for me to create tasks hands-free. There is a caveat, though. All tasks created this way will be saved in the default list. And because of this detail, I had to make a small modification to my system. We’ll get there.

    Another convenient feature is seeing my tasks on the Hub Max. It recognizes my face when I look at it and shows my upcoming calendar entries and tasks. And that’s not all. I can even use the touchscreen to see more tasks and mark them as completed.

    Then there is my Android phone, where I can also interact with the assistant using voice commands, even when I’m jogging. And, of course, I can use the widget to see what tasks are coming up.

    These features are too convenient to ignore.

    My system

    I only have two lists. The first one is called Activities and it’s all about recurring dates. To understand it, I invite you to watch the video below, even if you are not an Evernote user. That’s the exact system that I have transferred to Obsidian and am currently using on Google Tasks. Including the emojis 😉.

    Regarding the other list, it is the default list, even though it is ordered as the second one in my system. Everything I need to buy, from groceries to items for woodworking and other similar projects, goes on that list. It must be the default list because, more often than not, I ask Google Assistant to add items there.

    I don’t know why, but at the time of writing this article, there’s no way to make another list the default one. I have learned this the hard way, but you don’t need to. Plan ahead and figure out what kind of tasks you’ll be asking the Assistant to add more often. That should help you with your default list.

    Activities is the list I want to always keep an eye on, and that’s why it’s the first one. Every time I open the calendar, I see it. As for the other one, I only need it when I’m shopping and can easily open Google Tasks on my phone to check the items.

    But what if I told you that I never open the Tasks app on my phone? Each list has its own widget, which allows me to view the tasks, mark them as completed, and even create new ones. Again, Google Tasks is too convenient to ignore.

    One thing I’m always trying to do is remove potential complications from my systems. In the past, I tried splitting shopping items into a grocery list and a projects list, but that only added more friction to the system, as I had a third list to deal with. Since I rarely have a lot of items to buy, my human brain is capable enough to easily tell what is what on the Shopping list.

    Naturally, the number of items that have been completed on this that will increase exponentially, but that’s okay because they go to a collapsed space when marked as completed. However, if you really want a spotless list, the ‘Delete all completed tasks’ option will delete only the completed items on that list. So I can easily clean up my Shopping list without messing with my Activities list.

    That’s it. As I said before, I manage everything else using Kanban boards because they give me a much better view of the status of each project. But that’s a story for another day.

    I switched to Google Tasks

    I’ve recently switched to Google Tasks, and there are a few clues as to why in this article. But detailed information is coming soon. I’m currently working on a script for a video explaining the hacks I used to build my system and why it might be a better choice, depending on what Apps and devices you use.

    And talking about tasks, there are many videos on my channel about Evernote Tasks and the tutorial below explaining how to set up and use the Obsidian Tasks plugin.

    Evernote and other technologies I used when I was in Morocco

    When we entered the boarding area, my wife realized that she had forgotten her phone. In other words, gone were all the messages the travel agency had sent her. Thankfully, Evernote saved our trip to Morocco. At that point, we were unable to go back home and return in time, so I opened my Travel notebook on Evernote to assess the situation. But before I go any further, let me provide you with some context.

    Usually, I am the one who organizes our trips, but this time it was different. My wife was doing it. On my side, as I have already shown in past videos, I was saving on Evernote all that she was sending me. Also, I am not a WhatsApp user.

    Back to the airport

    I had our boarding passes and all instructions in offline notes, but here’s my question. Why would a travel agency send all the information to its clients using WhatsApp instead of email? Also, why would the clients trust WhatsApp with all that information? And I’m not even talking about privacy. I’m talking about access.

    Without a phone, which can be lost, broken, or stolen, there is no way to access the messages. However, on a public computer, one can open and even print information using the web client of an email provider or notes saved on Evernote, Google Keep, or others.

    I’m convinced that this addiction to WhatsApp has already gone too far and caused many people serious problems. A few days ago, I even saw an article suggesting that people use the note-to-self feature to take notes.

    NO! Please do not do this.

    If you are not interested in dealing with all that Evernote or similar Apps have to offer, use Google Keep. It’s simple, and you’ll be able to access your notes even without your phone.

    Okay, that’s that.

    But, since we are here, I would like to share with you the other technologies that made our trip a success, even though we did not buy a local SIM-Card.

    Google Maps

    You have to do this before loosing Internet connection. Go to settings, select the ‘Offline Maps’ option, choose an area and download it. From now on, even if you do not have Internet access, that map will be available. But there is a caveat: there are no turn-by-turn directions.

    The GPS will still work, and you’ll see the blue dot moving on the map. If you are walking as we were, it is pretty easy to follow a route towards your destination. Nevertheless, I’m not certain how efficient this would be for driving.

    Google Translate

    Just like Google Maps, we can download dictionaries on Google Translate. Before the trip, open the App on your phone, select one or more languages and tap the icon with an arrow pointing down.

    For this trip, I downloaded the Arabic and French dictionaries, which were quite helpful.

    Canon App

    I love the way Google Photos plots all pictures on a map, and there is also a practical use. I often forget a restaurant or another place location, and finding the address is as simple as opening the photo and selecting ‘Open in Google Maps’.

    For this trip, a brought my Canon, that doesn’t have a GPS. To fix this, I installed the Canon Camera Connect App, which connects to my phone via Bluetooth and uses its GPS to obtain the location of the pictures I was taking.

    Garmin Instinct 2

    This one was just for fun. I used my Garmin Instinct 2 to track all our walks, and at the end of each day, I saved the map in Evernote with some statistics, and a picture of the watch showing how much battery was left.

    Each day, we walked more than 10 km, and I’m now even more impressed with the battery of this watch. You can learn more about my decision to buy it by clicking here.

    Although I wasn’t expecting to need this, I added the hotel’s location to my watch, so I could navigate back there. Google Maps worked great, and we ended up memorizing our way back, but I had to try it. One day I did use the watch to go back to the hotel. It worked like a charm, and the geek in me loved it.

    It’s better to be disconnected

    My wife and I love to travel, but since the end of the lockdown, we’ve been only traveling within the EU. With the single currency, no border checks, and free roaming, things are too easy. There is no need to prepare thoroughly.

    It’s great that we can just pack and go, but ultimately, you feel like you never really visited another country.

    Morocco was, however, a different story. I went back to being prepared-for-anything mode, read a lot about it and watched some documentaries. Furthermore, without a local SIM-Card, we were disconnected from home most of the time, and we felt really immersed in an entirely different culture.