AirTags use Bluetooth to send signals that inform Apple devices where they are. A new signal is transmitted every 60 to 120 seconds.
Your AirTag updates its location more rapidly if there are multiple Apple devices around it, but in an isolated area or where there is no other Apple device sending signals it might stop doing so altogether.
AirTag typically updates location every sixty to 120 seconds; this may vary depending on how many smartphones are in its vicinity; if your AirTag is located near many smartphones, updates could come more frequently; otherwise if it’s in an isolated area it might go some time without receiving updates.
Bluetooth(r) is a radio technology used to wirelessly link devices such as phones, tablets, laptops and other electronic gadgets together through radio waves. Bluetooth(r) plays an integral part in today’s smart buildings, homes and cities.
Power and versatility enable it to serve multiple applications, from real-time location systems (RTLS) for asset tracking and indoor positioning systems (IPS) for wayfinding to help facility managers monitor the status of important assets or personnel such as pallets in a warehouse to ultrasound machines in hospitals.
RTLS solutions utilize low-power battery-operated transmitters that send their current location and received signal strength (RSSI) information directly to Bluetooth receivers, known as locators, across a facility. This gives facility managers a general idea of the location of any tracked assets so they can optimize operations or respond more quickly in an emergency situation.
RTLS solutions have quickly become a favorite in commercial and industrial settings, providing proximity marketing tools that enable retailers to send personalized promotions directly to customers. Furthermore, Bluetooth provides new forms of secure access control in these environments.
Bluetooth mesh networks connect tens of thousands of devices, from HVAC controls and security cameras to door locks and becoming an increasingly common component in smart buildings.
Direction finding is a key feature recently added to Bluetooth location services, enabling greater accuracy than ever by measuring both signal strength and direction when determining device locations.
Direction finding is an exciting development in Bluetooth proximity solutions that enable item finding and point of interest information (PoI). Furthermore, Bluetooth positioning systems already help users find their way around buildings or cities by offering them the capability of tracking their position on maps. The addition of direction finding is set to expand their scope even further.
Ultra Wideband (UWB) is a short-range radio-frequency technology used to pinpoint the location of devices and assets with extreme precision. Like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi standards, UWB enables two or more devices to exchange data through pulses of radio waves that travel over an incredibly broad frequency spectrum for maximum latency and accuracy.
UWB technology stands out from Bluetooth by having an energy efficiency of 20-30cm and can track distances up to 100ft; UWB, however, is much more accurate and can detect items up to 50ft away, making it suitable for tracking keys, wallets and backpacks that may otherwise be difficult to detect.
AirTags communicate their location every 60 to 120 seconds when within range of an Apple device; if in an isolated or deserted area or further away from other Bluetooth enabled Apple devices, however, their updates may occur less frequently.
Your AirTag uses Ultra Wideband technology, used by Apple devices such as iPhones and other Apple products to transmit short radio pulses every second. This same technology is also utilized in its Find My app.
Pulses travel in a wide frequency band, giving transmitters and receivers an accuracy of trillionths of a second. This is a huge advantage over shorter frequencies which have less accuracy and have greater chance of interference from background noise.
UWB technology stands out by its low power consumption, making it ideal for use across a range of devices from phones to industrial control systems and even sports equipment. Now widely adopted across applications worldwide.
As soon as your AirTag is within Bluetooth range of an iPhone, it will send out a signal that allows the Find My app on that device to use that signal to pinpoint its exact location in real-time. Furthermore, if your AirTag is outside Bluetooth range of your iPhone, other Bluetooth devices on Apple Find My network will broadcast its presence and provide more details for locating it.
Find My Network
AirTags are small Bluetooth-powered devices that use ultra wideband location data and near-field communication to quickly find lost objects. AirTags communicate their locations to Apple’s Find My Network of Apple devices to assist in tracking down missing items.
As soon as your device enters range of another iPhone or iPad with Find My Network enabled, it sends out a signal to find my network and update its location. In this way, Apple devices that support this feature can notify you exactly where your AirTag is and when it was last seen.
However, if your AirTag fails to update its location or doesn’t work at all, this could be because it is not receiving enough signals from nearby Apple devices. There are a few steps that may help resolve this issue and restore tracking capabilities of your AirTag.
As a first step, restarting the location services on your phone may help. If that fails, reseting network settings on your device might do the trick – this may delete saved passwords and VPN configurations but should resolve the issue.
Next, it is advisable to confirm if your AirTag has been upgraded with the most up-to-date firmware. Since November, several updates were released in response to security concerns raised by people whose items had been tracked by strangers.
Precision Finding, one of the latest firmware updates, allows iPhone users to accurately locate unknown AirTags with pinpoint precision – an invaluable feature after reports that malicious actors were using AirTags without consent to stalk people.
AirTags only update their location if they come within range of an iPhone with Bluetooth enabled and are in range of the Find My network. In order for an AirTag to do its job and communicate with Find My, make sure your iOS version is updated to make this possible.
If all else fails and your AirTag still won’t update its location, it could be because its firmware has become outdated or damaged. Apple offers regular software updates to fix bugs and improve performance of their AirTags; check for them by going into Settings then General > Software Update, then download any pending updates if available and install them if applicable. Otherwise consider factory resetting to erase unwanted software while refreshing its hardware.
If your AirTag doesn’t seem to be tracking properly, it could be because its device has an issue ranging from range issues or weak signals to incompatible software updates.
Tracking an AirTag requires being within Bluetooth range and in proximity of other Apple devices that can transmit its location through Find My Network. Your AirTag’s Last Seen message shows when its last interaction was with such a device and transmitted its location through this network.
To update the location of an AirTag device, bring it close to an Apple device with Bluetooth turned on and tap Send Last Location within its app. Allow 60-120 seconds for it to reconnect and update its position.
One of the primary causes of an AirTag that’s not updating its location is a lack of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or Cellular data connectivity. Switching these features on and off as well as restarting your device may help resolve this issue.
If the issue persists, a factory reset could be the solution. Doing this will remove any software which might be contributing to it, as well as help clear up any other potential issues your AirTag may have.
Finally, it is essential that you inspect both battery life and Coverage Area Interference (CAI). These issues could impact how accurately you locate objects if there is too much interference between tags.
Apple released an update to their AirTags in June to reduce their use for stalking their owners, by shortening the window of time during which AirTags play an alerting sound when separated from them from three days to eight or 24 hours – this was in response to concerns that AirTags could be misused as tools of stalking.