How do you know if a stalker has put an AirTag in your belongings? If you have an iPhone, you will be quickly notified that an AirTag is following you. If you are an Android user, the AirTag will just start beeping three days after it starts tracking you. Here̵
How it works: AirTags use Bluetooth
Here’s how it works: AirTags use Bluetooth so nearby devices on Apple’s Find My network can recognize them. If you’re using a Bluetooth scanner app (the kind of app that displays nearby Bluetooth devices), you’ll see nearby AirTags appear in the list of nearby Bluetooth devices.
It’s a bit more complicated than it sounds. The Apple AirTag doesn’t show up as an “AirTag” in the list, but it does as an unnamed Bluetooth device – and it does say it’s an Apple device, so it can be easy to spot the AirTag if you don’t. does own Bluetooth gadgets made by Apple.
Once you’ve seen the device that appears to be an AirTag, you can move your Android phone and pay attention to the signal strength to pinpoint its location.
Scan for AirTags on Android
To scan AirTags or nearby, you need a Bluetooth scanner app. We used LightBlue, a free Bluetooth scanner app available on the Google Play Store. Install the app on your Android phone, launch it and run a scan.
You can see all nearby Bluetooth devices here, from Bluetooth mice and keyboards to headphones and AirTags. If you live in an apartment building or are currently in a public location, keep in mind that in this list you may be able to see other people’s devices nearby.
So if you want to make it easier to find AirTags in the list, it can be helpful to move away from other people’s devices. You will find an AirTag in your bag easier if you are in the middle of an empty field than if you are in the middle of an airport.
The AirTag will appear as an “Untitled” device. If you tap on it, you’ll see that in the “Manufacturer Specific Data” field, it says that this particular item is an Apple device, which is a hint that this particular device could be an AirTag. Of course, it could also be another piece of hardware made by Apple.
Note: Note that the AirTag’s Device ID – that is the set of values shown as “42: 9A: 35: A7: 99: 51” in the screenshot below – will automatically change to new random values over time. You can’t rely on the ID alone to recognize an AirTag over time.
Find an AirTag nearby
If you’re pretty sure there’s an AirTag near you, you can use the device signal strength shown in the app to find it. The closer your phone gets to the AirTag, the more the signal strength meter fills up.
Moving your phone may give you a better idea of where the nearby AirTag is.
Scan the AirTag with NFC
Once you locate the AirTag, if it is in Lost Mode and you follow along, you can scan the white side of the AirTag with NFC to view contact information and a message that the AirTag owner may have set. Simply tap the back of your Android phone (or an iPhone) against the white side of the AirTag.
Obviously, this is not ideal
Obviously, this is not an ideal solution. With the launch of AirTags in early 2021, iPhone users will get a quick notification that an AirTag is following them, but Android users will have to wait three days to hear a beep or manually scan for AirTags. That is far from ideal.
What happens if Google releases a similar Bluetooth tracker in the future? Do Android users get a quick notification that a Google Tag is following them, but do iPhone users have to wait three days to hear a beep?
Obviously, more interoperability would be ideal – if Apple and Google created a cross-platform standard that would allow Android to quickly detect nearby AirTags in the same way, that would be great. Unfortunately, we don’t hold our breath for that kind of collaboration.