Android’s Find My Device Trackers Lose to AirTag in Email Test

Google launches Find My Device on Android after… long That delay was good for Apple, but its launch brought with it the promise of AirTag-like trackers for Android users. However, it was pretty clear that the current state of the network was no match for Apple’s, and now someone has tested that by dropping two trackers in the mail to see how they’re doing.

There are only a handful of trackers for the Find My Device network so far. Two from Chipolo, and three from Pebblebee. In our initial reviews of both sets of trackers, we quickly found that the network’s extremely slow rollout combined with Google’s decision to restrict it to “high traffic” areas by default has resulted in trackers that are incredibly limited in functionality.

Google says it’s working on this, but it may take some time before we start seeing improvements.

Meanwhile, a test was conducted. Written by Reddit user u/chiselplow Shows the status of Find My Device trackers compared to the gold standard, Apple’s AirTag.

On July 3, an AirTag and a Pebblebee Find My Device tracker (it wasn’t mentioned which) were placed inside a package and shipped via the US Postal Service. The AirTag provided updates on its location through a truck and a local post office, as well as a larger truck headed to a larger warehouse. The Pebblebee tracker provided only one update while it was at that warehouse, and that update kept coming back to say it was last seen at the user’s home.

Eventually, the update was updated, and on July 6, the package was delivered to its destination. The AirTag continued to provide frequent updates on its location throughout the journey, including at other warehouses and even along the way.

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By the end, the Pebblebee tracker appears to have reverted back to saying it was last seen at the user’s home, and never updated when it reached its final location. It’s clear that the tracker was seen at some point, but it’s very strange that the data it collected was actually discarded.

There are some questions here, such as whether the recipient of the package had an Android phone. But, in any case, it’s pretty clear that Google’s network of trackers can’t quite keep up with the location tracking performance of the AirTag yet. And frankly, that makes sense. Google takes a long time to fully roll out its network, and this test was conducted in the US where, given the iPhone’s market share, it’s entirely plausible that the tracker was never near an Android phone long enough to update its location properly.

Ultimately, it seems that much of this can be attributed to the Find My Device network’s default “high traffic areas” setting. This restricts Android phones from reporting the location of a tracker unless they’re in what’s considered a “high traffic” location — and it’s not entirely clear what that limit is. But random roads and warehouses probably Does not meet standards.

We’ve been planning to do a similar test once the Find My Device network launches more widely — stay tuned for more, and let us know in the comments how Find My Device trackers work for you.

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