AirTags are an efficient way of tracking personal objects such as keys and wallets. They operate using Bluetooth signals and crowdsourced location information from other Apple devices.
Unfortunately, AirTags occasionally experience difficulty updating their location. While this can be frustrating and annoying, there are a few steps you can take to resolve the problem.
How often does an AirTag update its location?
If you own an AirTag, it’s essential to understand how frequently it updates its location so you can stay on top of things. The frequency depends on a variety of factors such as the number of Bluetooth-enabled Apple devices nearby and distance between them and the AirTag itself.
If your AirTag is located in a busy area with lots of iPhones and other gadgets nearby, you may experience location updates every 60 to 120 seconds. This is because the Find My network uses an extensive network of devices to relay its information.
However, the update frequency varies from device to device and may be much slower or even cease altogether in remote areas due to the AirTag’s battery not being able to power the Find My network if there are no other Find My gadgets within its range.
You can determine how often your AirTag has updated its location by checking the “Last Seen” message in your Find My app. This indicates when an Apple device was last able to update with an AirTag using Find My’s network.
This can help determine if your AirTag is situated in a remote or out of range from Bluetooth-enabled Apple devices nearby. If there aren’t many, the AirTag won’t have access to them and thus has a much lower update frequency.
As a general guideline, however, you should receive location updates regularly. If not, it could be that your AirTag is missing and it might be worth trying to locate it.
Another possibility is that your AirTag’s battery needs replacing. This is an extremely common issue and a simple fix.
However, a more serious matter could be that your AirTag has been lost or altered. In such cases, contact law enforcement to assist in searching for both the device and its owner.
Frequency of the update depends on the number of Bluetooth-enabled Apple devices around the AirTag.
When using an AirTag with your iOS device, it will continuously check to see if the device is nearby. This process is known as “finding,” and in congested areas with many iPhones nearby, this may occur up to every 60 to 120 seconds.
These updates are essential for the Find My app’s ability to track a device. When your iPhone or other iOS device spots an AirTag, it will ping it back via the Find My app. This ping provides you with detailed information regarding its location – including whether or not any other Apple devices are within range of it.
The more Bluetooth-enabled Apple devices that surround your AirTag, the faster its pings will be and the more accurate the update will be. Conversely, if it’s in an isolated area without other Bluetooth-enabled Apple devices nearby, its update frequency could become significantly slower or even cease entirely.
Your AirTag may have trouble detecting its location due to various factors, including its size and distance from you. Typically, it sends out a Bluetooth signal to nearby Apple devices which then checks for and reports back on its whereabouts.
Due to the way AirTags communicate with Apple devices, signals may be interfered with by dirt or other obstacles that prevent reception of the signal. Therefore, it’s essential to inspect your AirTag for any signs of damage such as cracks in order to guarantee that its pings are working correctly.
AirTags are designed to be battery-efficient, meaning they may last for years before needing replacement. If the battery life is nearing its end, however, it’s wise to replace it as soon as possible.
When an AirTag’s battery is low, it will display a warning that it needs to be recharged. This issue commonly arises if the tag is used frequently or exposed to harsh environments; and serves as a helpful reminder that replacement should take place soon.
The more Bluetooth-enabled Apple devices around the AirTag, the faster the update will be.
The proximity of Bluetooth-enabled Apple devices around the AirTag is an important factor in how quickly it updates its location. Apple’s Find My network uses the closest device to ping the AirTag’s location and help you locate it; if there are too many miles between any two Bluetooth-enabled devices, then updating will take longer to complete.
Apple has issued several firmware updates for the AirTag to address this problem. In November 2022, they released Precision Finding, which allowed iPhone owners to locate an unknown AirTag that was “following” them. It also enabled the device to play a sound so that it could be more easily identified.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a guarantee against stalkers; reports have surfaced of people using Bluetooth trackers for illicit purposes. For instance, News 3 Channel recently reported on a woman helping a friend move who was stalked by a man wearing an AirTag. When confronted about her stalker, the victim had no choice but to contact local law enforcement and inform them of her situation.
In response to these reports, Apple has implemented security features in their AirTags that make them difficult for stalkers to use. Furthermore, the company releases regular firmware updates to fix bugs and add new capabilities.
Although Apple has made great strides to make these devices more secure, some users remain concerned that criminals could still utilize them for stalking and theft. Therefore, Apple is continuously working on ways to enhance AirTag safety and help users identify rogue devices more quickly.
Good news! If you’re concerned about being stalked by an AirTag, Apple’s Find My app can alert local law enforcement. But before doing so, be sure to check the firmware version of your AirTag.
Apple recently released version 2.0.24 of their AirTag smart tag, and this can be upgraded via over-the-air update that should be downloaded within a few weeks. To check which version of your AirTag you own, visit this page for more details.
The more remote the AirTag is from the Bluetooth-enabled Apple devices around it, the slower the update will be.
If your AirTag is out in the world and you’re uncertain when it will update its location, there are a few factors that could influence how quickly the tag re-establishes itself when an iPhone or iPad is paired to it.
First and foremost, the AirTag doesn’t update its location unless paired to an iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth. Therefore, if you find an AirTag far away from your Apple devices that support Bluetooth pairing, it may take longer for it to reestablish itself with that device even when its battery is low.
Thankfully, an app like BLE Scanner can quickly scan your environment for AirTags. Not only does it display any nearby tags, but it also gives an approximate location by estimating how far away they are from your devices.
Another factor to consider is how long the AirTag had been away from your paired device before it began beeping. Apple states that this sound only occurs after an extended period of inactivity, and its volume may differ depending on distance from your connected device.
One way to determine how long your AirTag has been away from your paired device is by checking the Find My AirTag feature on the Apple device, which displays its last known location. If you can’t locate your AirTag, turn off Send Last Location setting so it stops updating its location automatically.
The AirTag utilizes Bluetooth, ultra-wideband locations and near-field communication to locate lost items. If it’s inside your house or another part of the property, these signals may help locate it; however, if found outside your residence these won’t be as helpful.
Finally, if you lose an AirTag and can’t locate it near your paired Apple device, contact local law enforcement. They may be able to provide information about the device such as its owner’s phone number and serial number.