Trackers are the unsung heroes of the smart home space, and with Apple’s recent launch of AirTags, there are even more to play with. These tiny gadgets pull more than their weight in what they can accomplish, helping people locate and find things in their home, office, and the bottom of a suitcase or bag with a single click or checking a smartphone app.
So whether you own a new Apple AirTag, Tile, Orbit, TrackR, Pixie, or some other brand of trackers, here are seven ways you can use them beyond the obvious.
Locate your car
A tracker in your car can help you locate your vehicle much faster
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While many cars have built-in alarms connected to their key chains, not everyone is driving something new and shiny. For the rest of us, finding a car parked in a giant parking lot can be an exercise in frustration. A tracker tucked away under a seat, in a glove box, or just on the floor, can be retrieved by a tracker app or Apple’s Find My app, when you are walking around trying to locate your vehicle.
Trackers, including AirTags, are picked up with a certain Bluetooth radius. Depending on how rugged a tracker you own, these can reach around 300 feet. So as you get closer, your car’s tracker will ring and you have a better chance of getting out of the garage faster.
Find your smartphone
Most trackers can be used to locate a smartphone upside down by simply clicking on the device
The secret trick, though most people don’t necessarily know, is that most trackers – although not Apple AirTags – can reverse a smartphone’s location. Since they rely on Bluetooth connections to a smartphone app, it’s usually possible to click on tracking gadgets to find a phone.
First, download the app that works with your particular tracker and associate the tracker with the app. Then click on it if you can’t find your phone, which should – even if it’s on silent – play a quick melody to help you locate it if it’s in range.
More visual and audible clues
Apple has added a new feature called Precision Finding which provides audible, haptic and visual cues to find its AirTags.
Apple added more than an audible ping to help people locate its new AirTags – it also added visual and haptic cues, via a feature called Precision Finding, which works with the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12.
This not only makes directional arrows appear onscreen in the Find My app, but also comments via vibration, to let you know as you get closer. There are also distance notes so you know if you’re one foot or even five feet away, and a pointer telling you which direction to walk. These additional clues are useful for anyone who is visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing.
Take a selfie
Orbital trackers can function as a remote control and take a snapshot through the camera function of your smartphone
Orbital trackers have an additional fun trick in that they allow you to click a small side button on the device to activate your smartphone’s camera. You need to give permission in the Orbit app so that it can access both your camera and photos. Once you do though, if the app is open, you can set up the camera on a tripod and use the Orbit as a quick shutter remote.
Put Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant to use
You can locate a tracker by also asking one of the voice assistants to help you
You can use your voice to actually locate the trackers. Alexa and Google Assistant, for example, both work with Tile and Orbit trackers, and Siri is naturally connected to Apple AirTags. This means you can ask Siri to find an AirTag and Google Assistant to find your orbit and Alexa to locate that tile. And if you stick one on your remote, you’ll never have to rummage through sofa cushions or your dog’s bed to find that item again.
Avoid cloakroom mistakes
Slip a tracker into your coat pocket and you won’t come home with someone else’s wrap
Whether summer or winter, you will find a set of black and navy coats in any wardrobe. Even if you think you know your coat by sight, the person who hands you your jacket or what you think is your jacket probably doesn’t. After a drink or two, you might not be able to tell your woolen trench coat from someone else’s either.
Slip a tracker into an inside pocket, and you can make sure you have your coat on before slipping it over your shoulders and heading out the door.
Drop the piece of wire and use a tracker to help locate your bag at the airport
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Tying a string to luggage might have seemed like a smart idea at first, but the rainbow of ribbons in airport baggage claim areas will tell you otherwise.
A tracker, stowed in an outside or inside pocket as well, is the fastest way to make sure you leave with your bag, and nothing else. We suggest that once you get to the baggage claim area you start activating the tracker so that if someone else starts to get out of your bag they will hear an unknown ringtone which will hopefully l alarm enough to turn around. Otherwise, the bag, in fact the tracker, should ping which will alert you to your luggage as well.