Bluetooth devices are more common than ever. It seems that wireless technology is built into almost every product we buy: it connects our iPhones to our Apple Watches and Fitbits, our wireless headphones to audio sources, and our game controllers to our consoles. Of course, the more technology goes wireless, the easier it is to disappear: I’ve lost my AirPods on the couch more than once, and I’m sure you have a similar experience. There is, however, an app that makes locating just about any Bluetooth device as easy as you can imagine.
Of course, if you’re in the Apple ecosystem, you have find my: This network of Bluetooth devices communicates with Internet devices like the iPhone to update their location on the Locate map. If you check the app, you can see the last known location for all compatible devices. Apple’s U1 chip takes element location a step further, as the technology literally guides you to where the Bluetooth device is hiding.
But not all Bluetooth devices are compatible with this technology, and not everyone is in the Apple ecosystem. There are many Bluetooth devices in your world that can get lost without a clear solution to find them. Luckily, there are apps designed to help you track down these items, similar to how Apple’s U1 chip works, no matter what smartphone you have.
Find your lost Bluetooth devices on iPhone and Android
The best free app I’ve seen so far is Wunderfind, available for iOS and android. After skipping a slightly aggressive upgrade screen, you’re presented with a simple interface, showing just about every nearby Bluetooth device. Not only do I see the devices I own (from computers, to speakers, to headphones, etc.), but I see many devices that I don’t recognize, probably belonging to my neighbors. Bluetooth has a range of around 30 feet, so it makes sense to pick up some devices in neighboring apartments.
Other free apps, such as LightBlue and Bluetooth BLE Device Finder, also show you a list of devices in your area, so this isn’t a unique feature. However, what Wunderfind offers on top of these apps is guided tracking free. When you tap on one of these devices, you’ll see a new screen appear, showing a large circle with a smaller blue circle in the middle. The size of this blue circle depends on your proximity to the Bluetooth device, a distance which is also represented by a percentage out of 100. For example, if you see a small blue circle with a score of 20%, you know that you are not are not particularly close to your object: if you see a large blue circle with a score of 80%, you are almost there.
App reviews praise this feature: While you’ll see plenty of reviews thanking the developers for helping them find devices like Apple Pencils and Headphones, you’ll also see more important devices discovered, such as hearing aids. It makes you wonder why more companies aren’t building apps like this, or if they are, why aren’t they taking the time to build them as well. Apple’s Find My is a good start, but it could clearly add more features like this.
It’s hard to find AirTags with Bluetooth tracking apps
Where I think these apps can improve — and where it might not be their fault — is in identifying AirTags. You could have learn more about the controversies surrounding the company’s tiny trackerswhich are designed to help locate various devices and items that go missing easily or are the target of theft. AirTags can go on your keys, so you can easily get them out of your couch, as well as your backpack, in case someone “accidentally” picks them up and leaves your location.
In this regard, it is an excellent product. However, you can quickly see the problem: if you can track an object, you can track a person. Apple did think of a workaround herehowever: if your iPhone detects a strange AirTag nearby long enough and that AirTag becomes separated from its owner, it will alert you both as an announcement from your iPhone, as well as an audible alert from the AirTag itself. There is also an app for android users to manually search for nearby AirTags.
From what I can gather, these Bluetooth tracking apps are not detecting my AirTag. The fact that none of them do makes me wonder if there’s something specific about the AirTag that doesn’t make it show up in a Bluetooth scan. I’ve seen complaints about the Android AirTag tracking app not working unless the AirTag has been separated from its owner for a period of time: that may be what’s happening here too. It’s hard to test, however, since I’m using my iPhone to run the Bluetooth scanner app, as well.
Apple isn’t the only Bluetooth tracker in gaming either: Tile also manufactures these devices, although I don’t own one myself. I can’t confirm if these apps can detect Tile trackers in their scans, or if they have an issue similar to AirTags. Keep this in mind if you try to use these apps to search for Bluetooth trackers.
That said, Wunderfind is a great option for finding your lost Bluetooth devices. If you want to pay the one-time $4.99 premium, you’ll get access to “pro” features, such as playing a sound to find lost devices, notifications when devices are lost or found, a map of Bluetooth devices in your area, and free updates for future pro features.