How AirTags work


Apple AirTag is a small, coin-shaped device designed to help you keep track of your belongings. It works by utilizing a combination of Bluetooth technology, the U1 chip, and the Find My network. Here is how Airtags work.

Be sure to watch the video version on AirTags here!

How AirTags Work: Steps

  1. Pairing and Setup: To use an AirTag, you need an iPhone or iPad running the latest version of iOS or iPadOS. When you first set up an AirTag, you’ll need to bring it close to your iPhone or iPad and follow the instructions that appear on the screen. The AirTag will be paired with your Apple ID and associated with your iCloud account.
  2. Bluetooth Connectivity: AirTag uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to establish a wireless connection with your iPhone or iPad. When your AirTag is nearby and in range, it communicates with your device using Bluetooth. This allows your iPhone or iPad to detect and track the AirTag’s location.
  3. Precision Finding with U1 Chip: The AirTag contains a U1 chip, which enables a feature called Precision Finding on iPhone models equipped with the same U1 chip (iPhone 11 and later). This chip utilizes Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology, allowing for more precise tracking of the AirTag’s location. When Precision Finding is enabled, your iPhone uses a combination of audio, haptic feedback, and visual cues to guide you to the exact location of the AirTag.
  4. Find My Network: In addition to Bluetooth, AirTag leverages the vast Find My network to help you locate your belongings. The Find My network consists of millions of Apple devices around the world. When you mark your AirTag as lost in the Find My app, it goes into Lost Mode. When another Apple device (such as an iPhone, iPad, or Mac) comes into proximity of your lost AirTag, it securely communicates its location to your iCloud account, and you receive a notification about its approximate whereabouts.
  5. Sound and Precision Finding: If you’re searching for a nearby AirTag, you can use the Find My app on your iPhone to play a sound on the AirTag. This helps you locate it if it’s within Bluetooth range. The sound emitted by the AirTag is a distinctive chirping sound that can be easily recognized.
  6. Privacy and Security: Apple has implemented various privacy and security measures to protect the user’s information and prevent unauthorized tracking. Each AirTag is paired with the owner’s Apple ID and iCloud account, ensuring that only the owner has access to its location. Additionally, AirTags are designed to discourage unwanted tracking. If an AirTag is away from its owner for an extended period, it will emit an alert sound to notify nearby individuals that it may be nearby without their knowledge.

It’s worth noting that AirTags are primarily designed for tracking objects and belongings, not people or pets. Apple has specific guidelines and limitations in place to protect user privacy and prevent misuse.

An Apple AirTag uses Bluetooth connectivity, the Find My network, and the U1 chip for precise tracking and locating of your belongings. It provides peace of mind by helping you keep tabs on important items and alerting you if they go missing.

John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

View all posts by John Biggs →

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