Can Apple’s AirTags Find Lost Pets?


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Today we’ll hear from Kaitlyn Wells, a writer at Wirecutter, a product recommendation site for The New York Times.

The panic that occurs when a pet goes missing is something no dog or cat owner would want to experience. If your best friend runs away, GPS (Global Positioning System) pet trackers Tracking your pet in real time can help get you back together, but the devices can be expensive (averaging around $200) and some also require an expensive annual subscription. So when Apple announced AirTag tracking devices You may have wondered what I did in April: Does the $29 coin-sized device work as a pet tracker?

How is AirTag different from a Bluetooth or GPS pet tracker?

GPS pet trackers use satellite signals and cellular data information to transmit your pet’s location to your phone, while Bluetooth-only trackers transmit its location only if your phone is within Bluetooth range (usually within 30 to 100 feet) or if someone else is running. would be to wander past in the same tracker ecosystem.

AirTag uses both Bluetooth and a more precise positioning technology called ultra-wideband (UWB) to pinpoint the tracker’s location. If you’re using an iPhone near the missing AirTag, like an enhanced version of Bluetooth, UWB will show you the direction of your AirTag with compass-like accuracy. If you’re far away, Apple’s Find My App network and other iPhone users’ Bluetooth can help you find it.

Apple devices that help you keep track of your AirTag are almost ubiquitous wherever you are – this difference is what makes Apple’s tracker much more useful than a Bluetooth tracker like the one below. tile materuns on a much smaller pool of users.

While both AirTags and Bluetooth trackers depend on other devices, GPS trackers use the power of satellites.

Does Apple approve using AirTag to track pets?

Technically no. Although small enough to be attached to a dog’s collar using Apple’s own collar keychains or loops (my colleague Brian X. Chen hack did its job), Apple stressed that AirTag is intended. find items, not people or pets. Nevertheless, a company patent It’s based on UWB technology and cites removable tags attached to a pet’s collar or a kids’ T-shirt as possible usage scenarios in the filing.

Don’t be surprised if Apple launches pet-friendly trackers in the future, but currently AirTag as a pet tracker is considered off-label use.

Any reason why you wouldn’t want to use AirTags for pets?

AirTag is more limited than dedicated GPS pet trackers. Currently, the Find My app does not immediately notify you when you leave an AirTag, but this feature Adding to iOS 15. GPS pet trackers do this if your pet leaves a designated area.

AirTags also can’t be attached to a pet’s collar alone, so you’ll need to buy an Apple AirTag Loop (costs as much as AirTag itself) or cheaper third party owner.

Other GPS pet trackers by Wirecutter

We’ve tested over a dozen pet trackers over the years, and one of them always leads: Whistle Go Explore. It’s four times more expensive than the AirTag, but will tell you right away if your pet has run away from the house, is more accurate than any other GPS tracker we’ve tested, and works with both Apple and Android phones.

However, like most pet trackers we’ve tested, GPS accuracy can be finicky when cellular service is spotty, and you’ll pay an annual subscription of $100 to keep using it. The rechargeable battery only lasts for about three days in “lost pet mode”, compared to AirTag’s estimated months of battery life in this mode.

If you’re a price-conscious Apple user, the AirTag is more accurate than a traditional Bluetooth tracker, but it won’t be as responsive as a GPS pet tracker.

AirTag is much better than nothing, but if you’re willing to spend a little more, I recommend Whistle Go Explore because it remains the most reliable, accurate, and fastest way to alert you when your pet is lost.

Whatever device you choose, make sure your pets are microchipped and their ID tags are correct. The more ways you can reunite with your lost pet, the better.

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