iPhone users can quickly and easily find an AirTag, but Android users can help as well.
Apple is ready to take on Tile with its new AirTag tracker, which can help iPhone owners find lost items like their keys or a backpack. The $29 tracker, which leverages Apple’s Find My network, is available to order right now and will hit store shelves starting April 30. The Find My network is a crowdsourced network created by fellow Apple users to help track down an AirTag at all times. But what about Android phones?
When Apple announced the AirTag, I assumed that Android phones couldn’t interact with the Tile-like tracker at all.
Well, it turns out I was wrong. While you can’t pair an AirTag with an Android device, Apple’s walled garden doesn’t stop Android owners from helping return a lost AirTag. That means if you have an Android phone and find someone’s keys or hear a beeping AirTag inside a backpack, you can play a part in returning it to its owner. Here’s how.
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What to do if you find a lost AirTag
When you find a lost tag, you can scan it using NFC even if you have an Android phone.
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani
Each AirTag uses random Bluetooth identifiers to anonymously communicate with Apple devices in the background to precisely locate the small tracker — all without anyone involved knowing it’s even happening. The same can’t be said about Android phones, however. Unless Apple decides to release a Find My app in the Play Store, you’re going to have to do some extra work if you find a lost tag.
If you have an Android phone and happen to find a lost set of keys, a backpack or even a bike with an AirTag attached, you can scan the small tracker as long as your phone has the ability to read NFC tags.
Every AirTag has an NFC chip inside it, and that chip is readable by Android phones and iPhones. So, as long as your Android phone is equipped with NFC (if you can use contactless payments, you have NFC), all you need to do is read the AirTag by placing it near the back of your phone.
Once the tag is scanned, an alert will pop up on your screen that includes a web link, or your phone’s browser will automatically open to an information page about the tag. If it’s marked as lost, you’ll see instructions on how to contact the rightful owner and get the item back to them. Pretty easy, right?
What to do if you find a random AirTag
Apple put a lot of thought and work into eliminating the use of AirTags as hidden tracking devices: You can only use them to track items, not people or pets. As such, an AirTag that detects it’s traveling away from its owner will start to beep after an extended period of time. Right now, it will take three days before the AirTag beeps — but Apple plans on adjusting that amount of time based on feedback after AirTag officially launches.
So what do you do if you find an AirTag in your car or backpack? Start by scanning it using the NFC capability of your phone. If it’s marked as lost, you’ll see the owner’s information and how to contact them. If it’s not marked as lost, you’ll be walked through the process of removing the battery from the AirTag to disable it.
You can order an Apple AirTag right now, with deliveries starting April 30. If you’re on the fence about buying AirTags, make sure to read our full review and learn how to track down your lost items if you have an iPhone.