Opinion: AirTags can help find your stuff, but use something else to track kids, pets

Jim Rossman uses Apple AirTags to keep up with some things, including his keys, wallet and a suitcase. — Jim Rossman/TNS

My wife and I took an overnight trip with my mother-in-law this week to a casino hotel.

I use Apple AirTags to keep up with some of my things, including my keys, wallet and a suitcase.

This trip was a good test of how AirTags work for tracking things when you become separated from them.

My keys were at the valet stand overnight and I was able to see their approximate location in the Find My app on my phone.

My suitcase stayed in the room, but every time I left the room, I received a notification that I’d left the AirTag behind. This is exactly how AirTags were designed to work.

I joked with my wife that we should slip an AirTag in my mother-in-law’s purse to keep track of her on the casino floor.

It wasn’t a bad idea, since she would have been in an enclosed area, and it could have helped us find her.

What about using an AirTag to track your pets or your kids?

Apple says AirTags were designed to track your stuff, not something that might be moving.

When you are separated from an AirTag, you’ll be notified of its current location when it comes into range of an anyone else’s iPhone, but if the AirTag is moving, it won’t be at that location for long.

This might be a good thing if your kid is lost in an area with lots of iPhone users, but won’t really help at all if they are lost on a hiking trip in the woods.

An AirTag would be a good choice to put on your kid’s backpack, which can help locate it if they leave it somewhere.

If you want live tracking of your kids, an Apple Watch is a better option. The $249 Apple Watch SE is perfect for kids, or adults.

What about pets? If your dog or cat gets out of your yard, an AirTag on their collar won’t track their location.

Your best hope will be to get a periodic update on their location if they come within 50 feet or so of someone with an iPhone. That information may be enough for you to find them, or at least know you are in the vicinity, but it won’t be tracking them in real time.

GPS-enabled trackers are available for your pet’s collar, but they can be expensive and you’ll need to charge them up pretty often.

So, using an AirTag to track a moving object isn’t optimal. You can certainly do it, but make sure you realize the limitations of the location information you’ll be getting back. – Tribune News Service

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