Tracker

    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.


    This is extremely embarrassing, I lost the Tile, not my keys.

    The app shows me the circle on the map, pointing me to the approximate position of where it is. I know I’m close to it because I can see the option to make it chime when I approach the area.

    For the past couple of days, I have been walking around that spot, staring at my phone and the ground below, as if I were chasing a Pokémon that isn’t there. Despite walking the entire perimeter many times, I never received a signal higher than ‘Moderate’ and could never hear it chiming.

    It is a gas station I usually go to; the app tells me I’m in the Bluetooth range, and I even asked inside if they found it. The lost and found box has many keys but no Tiles. Which makes me wonder how people drove from the gas station after losing their keys. Anyway, I have my own problems.

    Maybe it is inside a drain. I don’t know. But it’s embarrassing that I lost the device that was supposed to help me find my keys, which I still have.