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Today we’ll hear from Carolyn Wells, a staff writer at Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times.

The pain that sets up when a pet goes missing is something the dog or cat owner doesn’t want to experience. If your best friend should be discharged, GPS (Global Positioning System) pet trackers that track your pet in real time can help you reconnect, but devices can be expensive (they average $ 200), and some can be expensive. Requires an annual subscription. So when Apple Play announced its AirTag tracking devices in April, you might be wondering what I did: Will the 29 coin-sized device work as a pet tracker?

How is Airtag different from Bluetooth or GPS Pet Tracker?

GPS pet trackers use satellite signal and cellular data information to communicate your pet’s location on your phone, while Bluetooth-only trackers communicate its location only if it is within your phone’s Bluetooth range – typically 30 to 100 Within feet – or if someone else is running the same tracker happens to wander past on the ecosystem.

AirtagTr uses a more precise positioning technology called Bluetooth and Ultravideband (UWB) to direct the location of Bluetooth. If you’re using an iPhone near a missing airtag, like the soup-up version of Bluetooth, UWB will point you in the direction of your airtag with compass-like accuracy. If you’re away, Apple’s Find My App network and Bluetooth from other iPhone users can help you find it.

The difference – the near ubiquity of AirPul devices helping to track your AirTags wherever you are – is what makes the ApplePul tracker more useful than a tile mat like a Bluetooth tracker that works in a small pool of users.

Both Airtags and Bluetooth trackers rely on other devices, however, GPS trackers use the power of satellites.

Does Apple allow pets to use airtags for tracking?

Technically, no. Although Apple Pal’s own key rings or loops (my colleague Brian X Chen did the hack work) are so small to attach to a dog’s collar, Apple Play emphasizes that airtags are for finding objects, not people or pets. However, the company has a patent on its UWB technology and removable tugs attached to a pet collar or a child’s T-shirt are cited as possible use scenarios in the filing.

If Apple launches pet-friendly trackers in the future, don’t be shocked, but for now, Aartag is considered to use the label f-label as a pet tracker.

Is there a reason you don’t want to use airtags for pets?

Airtag is more limited than dedicated GPS pet trackers. Currently, the Find My app will not immediately notify you if you are off the airtag, although this feature is being added to iOS 15. GPS pet trackers do this if your pet leaves a designated area.

Airtags can’t be attached to a pet’s collar either, so you’ll need to buy an Apple Pal Airtag loop (which costs the same as an Aartag) or a less expensive third-party holder.

Other GPS pet trackers prefer the wirecutter

We’ve tested over a dozen pet trackers over the years and one always leads the pack: Explore the Whistle Go. It costs four times more than Airtag, but it will instantly let you know that if your pet runs away from home, it’s more accurate than any other GPS tracker we’ve tested and works with both and Paul and Android phones.

But like most pet trackers we’ve tested, its GPS accuracy can be therapeutic when the cellular service is spotty, and you pay an annual subscription of annual 100 to continue using it. The rechargeable battery also lasts about three days in “Lost Pet Mode” compared to Airtag’s estimated month-long battery life in that condition.

If you’re a price-conscious Apple Pal user, the Airtag is more accurate than a traditional Bluetooth tracker, but it won’t respond as well as a GPS pet tracker.

Airtag is better than anything, but if you want to spend a little more, I recommend Whistle Go Explorer because it’s the most reliable, accurate and fast way to warn you if your pet is missing.

It doesn’t matter which device you choose, make sure your pet is microchipped and their IDs are accurate. The more you have to get together with your lost pet, the better.


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