What Devices Can Be Used to Report an AirTag’s Location?
While Apple boasts the largest crowdsourced location network in the world, thanks to over a billion Apple devices, there should be a pretty big asterisk beside this right now.
Firstly, even though Apple has been working on its Find My network for a couple of years now, it appears that only devices running iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, or macOS 11.3 or later will pick up and report the location of an AirTag.
Note that this excludes the Apple Watch, Apple TV, and HomePod. This is likely merely an OS limitation for now — these devices run watchOS and tvOS, not iOS or iPadOS — it does mean that you won’t be able to find AirTags that you’ve left around the home unless there’s also an iPhone, iPad, or Mac nearby.
Secondly, any device that happens across your AirTag does need to have an actual internet connection to report its location. So, an iPod touch, Wi-Fi-only iPads, and MacBooks won’t do much good if they’re not online at the time.
Thirdly, from our testing, it seems that older devices report an AirTag’s location less frequently or reliably. We suspect this is due to older Bluetooth versions. For instance, despite running macOS Big Sur 11.3.1, a 2013 MacBook Pro with Bluetooth 4.0 failed to pick up AirTags at all — even our own that were sitting right beside it — even though the items were appearing in Find My, the location information was coming solely from the cloud. We’re not certain if this is a bug or simply a limitation of the older Bluetooth chipset.
Similarly, a current-model iPod touch, which has a Bluetooth 4.1 chipset, could locate its own nearby AirTags without any difficulty, but only reported the location of other AirTags in the background sporadically at best, usually at around 15-minute intervals.
On the other hand, current iPad Air, iPad Pro, and iPhone 12 models all reported locations of nearby AirTags in the background without missing a beat. To be clear, this still isn’t quite real-time tracking; AirTags work much like other Apple devices in that Find My will only poll and update their location every couple of minutes.
It also appears that other Apple devices have to be in range of an AirTag for a minute or two before they’ll actually report its location.