Apple’s AirTags have one feature not mentioned during the announcement yesterday: they’ll work with Android to a limited extent. As 9to5Mac noted, there’s a support article on Apple’s site that details how AirTags will work with an Android device if you don’t have your iPhone handy.
The way AirTags function is by securely communicating with Bluetooth devices and iPhones equipped with ultra-wideband that are in the area. If AirTags exclusively worked with Apple devices it would severely limit their effectiveness, particularly in regions where iPhones aren’t as popular as Android.
AirTags won’t work out of the box with an Android device, nor can you use an Android device in lieu of an iPhone with one. Instead, it will only work with Android devices equipped with NFC and only communicate when the AirTags are in Lost Mode.
First, you’ll need to use your iPhone to activate Lost Mode, which is supposed to show you on a map where your AirTag has wandered off to. Then if someone with an Android device finds your lost AirTag, they can hold it up to their NFC-equipped phone and get details on how to contact you. They’ll only be able to get details if the Lost Mode is activated, which should help with privacy concerns.
The Android support makes AirTags way more useful, but if you want the full experience on an Android device, you’ll probably want to take a gander at Tile’s offerings. The company is reportedly working on an AirTag competitor that should work on both iOS and Android. Samsung also has its own AirTag competitor, Galaxy SmartTags. Like the AirTags and planned Tile offering, the Galaxy SmartTags use UWB to provide a more exact location for a lost tag. The Galaxy SmartTags only work with Samsung Galaxy phones, but unlike AirTags and the Tile tag, Galaxy SmartTags are available now and start at $29.99.