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Home / Tips and Tricks / Apple’s Find My app can do more than find a lost iPhone. Here’s What You Should Know

Apple’s Find My app can do more than find a lost iPhone. Here’s What You Should Know



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This is what the new Find My app icon looks like on the iPhone.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Have you opened the Find My app on your iPhone, iPad or Mac recently? If you have Apple’s AirTags, you did during the installation process for the small tracker. If you haven’t already, pay attention the next time you do it – there’s a new Items tab in the app. Apple recently announced a feature that allows other companies to use Apple’s Find My network to keep track of various items and devices. Not only does Apple’s new AirTag use the Find My network, but you will soon be able to buy everyday items with the same built-in technology, such as an electric bike or wireless earbuds.

To be clear, the Find My app still helps you track down your lost iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch or AirPods, but the list of devices and products you can track is growing.

Below, I’ll walk you through the Find My app and detail how Apple’s approach keeps your data and information private.

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Apple uses some pretty cool technology to find lost devices.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Find your Apple devices and friends

The Find My app now has four main tabs: People, Appliances, articles and Me. I dive into the articles tab in the section below, but for now I want to focus on finding people, your Apple devices, and the Me sections of the app.

The People tab is where you will find contacts you’ve shared your location with. Or if you are part of a Family sharing group, everyone in your family group will also appear here. A map takes up most of the screen, with a list of your contacts below. Tap a contact to zoom in to their location and view options, such as getting directions to them or reporting them.

Notifications can be useful if you want to know when a friend is leaving or arriving at a location. Your contact will be notified when you make a notification regarding their location, so they know you will be notified when their location changes – you no longer need to be notified of their location without them knowing (and that’s good thing) .

The Appliances tab shows all Apple devices signed into your iCloud account, as well as all devices associated with your Family Sharing group, such as those of your partner, parents or children. You can view them all on a map or tap on a separate device for information. Each device list includes the last time the device was located, the current battery level, a button to get directions to the iPhone, or play a sound to help find a lost device. You can also mark the device as lost, activate lost mode, to aid in recovery.

finally, the Me In the tab, you’ll find options to stop sharing your location with your friends, edit a location’s name (tag your home, work, etc.), and turn friend requests on or off. A new option added to the Me tab is Item safety Warnings. When enabled, your iPhone will alert you when an unknown device is nearby and moving with you. For example, if someone secretly puts a Chipolo One Spot tag in your bag so they can track your location at all times, your iPhone will notify you.

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This is what Find My looks like when it tracks your items.

Apple

Find the My New Items tab

Your Apple device must be running iOS 14.3, iPadOS 14.3, or MacOS Big Sur 11.1 or later to see the Items tab and connect third-party products to the app. Currently, there are only three third-party products announced that will work with the Find My network, but Apple expects to see more products in the coming weeks and months.

The current list of products and expected availability are:

  • Belkin’s Soundform Freedom True Wireless earbuds ships in June, but you can order a pair right now.
  • Andy from VanMoof’s S3 & X3 E-bikes ordered after April 7, works with Apple’s Find My network. Delivery time varies from 9 to 20 weeks, depending on the configuration.
  • Chipolos A Spot tracker cannot be pre-ordered, but will ship in June. However, you can sign up for alerts when preorders are opened.

In addition to those items, all of which won’t be available until June, Apple’s own tracking device, the AirTag.

I am waiting to get my hands on one of the third-party products to test and find out exactly how the Find My Items feature works. However, I imagine it works just like AirTags, where you start by turning on the product and then opening the Items tab in the Find My app while your Apple device scans for available devices. You then follow the prompts to like the item on your Apple ID and it will appear in the Items tab. You can then play a sound if it’s nearby, turn on lost mode, and receive notifications when it’s found.

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The Chipolo tag is a lot like the rumored AirTag, isn’t it?

Apple

How Find My works even if your lost item is offline

The most striking aspect of the Find My app and the network it uses is how Apple locates a lost device, even when it is offline. As long as your iPhone or other compatible product is turned on, it can be found by nearby Apple devices even if a thief has turned off all internet connection.

Using the Bluetooth signal from your lost device, iPhones, iPads and Macs nearby will report the exact location of the lost gadget to Apple. You will then be notified where the device is located – all anonymous, encrypted and without any intervention from those near your lost device.

Let’s say you leave your iPad in an airport and when you realize it’s gone, mark it as lost in the Find My app. While other iPhone owners will walk past your lost iPad and their phone will identify that the Bluetooth signal is associated with a lost device, then send you a notification with the location of your iPad, all without that person ever knowing your iPad lost or with their phone altogether.

Apple is essentially turning all of its hardware into anonymous search parties, and it’s pretty cool.

If you’re concerned about privacy concerns, it’s all done through end-to-end encryption, which Apple says prevents anyone, even the company itself, from seeing the location of your item.

Wondering how other features on your iPhone or iPad work? Here’s how Apple’s Face ID works. We also have several guides for iOS 14, including the best features you should know, together with hidden features you will love.


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