Wednesday, June 19, 2024
AndroidSmart Phones

Google’s Rivals AirTag with the Largest Item Tracking Network


Google announced Android’s answer to the Apple AirTag almost a year ago. Now, all pieces are falling into place as the first compatible devices were announced, including Chipolo’s Point family of item trackers.

Popularized by Tile, these item trackers create a network of devices that use Bluetooth technology to find lost items, such as bags, keys, pets, and more. However, different from current item trackers on Android—such as the Galaxy SmartTag nextpit tested in late 2023, and a few others including Tile itself—the new Google network is not tied to a specific brand of phones or an app. 

Apple AirTag
The Apple AirTag is currently the most popular item tracker and the one with the largest network. / © nextpit

The new Find My Network can work on any phone running Android 9 or newer and the necessary Google Play Services version, making it potentially the largest anonymous tracking network from the get-go.

We used “new” because the service and app were already available, but only to track devices with Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity like phones, tablets, and smartwatches. Google first announced the item tracking ecosystem during Google I/O 2023 but its launch was delayed when Google and Apple signed a partnership to implement a universal anti-stalking feature.

Google I/O Opening Keynote
Android users will be warned of an AirTag following them. / © Google

While AirTags won’t be compatible with Android phones (and vice-versa), an iPhone will be able to detect an “Android tracker” following the phone and warn the user. The same happening on Android phones with AirTags. Apple, however, only started adding support for the feature on iOS 17.5, which is still in testing as of publishing time. 

The building blocks on Android are already in place, as shown in the screenshots below taken from a Pixel 7a running the Android 15 development preview. Google apparently activated the option a little too soon this past Thursday (4) but the menu disappeared shortly after on nextpit’s test device.

 

Screenshots from the Find my devices Settings menu
Item tracking can be activated/deactivated on the “Find your offline devices” menu. / © nextpit

Chipolo Point

One of the first item trackers compatible with the Find My Network is Chipolo’s Point family. The trackers were originally announced in May 2023 but were delayed while Google and Apple had their interoperability talks.

Chipolo One Point item tracker attached to a luggage
The One Point has a more traditional keyring form factor. / © Chipolo

Available in both keyring (One Point) and card (Card Point) sizes, the trackers are easily added to the Google Account using the Fast Pair feature. Locating the tracker is done using the Find My Device app. The app can also be used to make a nearby tracker beep, and a single tracker can be used by different Google accounts—e.g. to find a bag while traveling.

Chipolo Card Point inside of a passport holder
The Card Point has a thin profile designed to fit a wallet. / © Chipolo

Both Chipolo trackers are IPX5-rated against water splashes, and while the One Point uses a replaceable battery, the Card Point has a fixed battery with a two-year battery life according to Chipolo. A depleted card can be sent back for a 50% discount on a new model, which is an unfortunate trade-off for its wallet-friendly thin design.

Compared to the Apple AirTag or the Galaxy SmartTag 2, the first generation of Android trackers do not include features such as UWB for precise navigation, locating the phone using a button on the tracker, or out-of-range notifications.

The Chipolo Point trackers are available for pre-order, with shipments scheduled for May 27th.

Would you like to see us testing the new item trackers? Which features do you think are the most important when buying one? Share your opinions in the comments below!



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