This App Is Like a Homing Device for Bluetooth Signals

This app is like a Bluetooth signal homing device

Bluetooth devices are more common than ever. It seems like wireless technology is ingrained in 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 go missing: I’ve lost my AirPods on the couch more than once, and I’m sure you have a similar experience. However, there is an app that makes locating almost 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 such as the iPhone to update their location on the Find My map. If you check the app, you can see the last known location for all compatible devices. Apple’s U1 chip goes one step further with locating items, as the technology literally leads you to where the Bluetooth device is hiding.

But not all Bluetooth devices are compatible with this technology, and not everyone is part of the Apple ecosystem. There are plenty of Bluetooth devices in your world that can be lost without a clear solution to find them. Fortunately, there are apps designed to help you track these items down, 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 somewhat aggressive upgrade screen, you’re presented with a simple interface, which lists just about all the Bluetooth devices in your area. Not only do I see the devices I own (from computers to speakers, headphones, and more), I see many devices I have do not recognize, presumably from my neighbors. Bluetooth has a range of about 9.14 m, so it makes sense to pick up certain devices in the apartments next door.

Other free apps, like LightBlue and Bluetooth BLE Device Finder, also show you a list of the devices in your area, so this isn’t a uniquely great feature. However, what Wunderfind offers above these apps is guided tracking free† When you tap on one of these devices, you will see a new screen appear with a large circle with a smaller blue circle in the middle. The size of that blue circle depends on how close you are to the Bluetooth device, a distance 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 particularly close to your object: if you see a large blue circle with a score of 80%, you are almost there.

Reviews for the app are praising it for this feature: While you’ll see plenty of reviews thanking the developers for helping us find devices like Apple Pencils and earbuds, you’ll also see more major devices discovered, such as hearing aids. You wonder why more companies don’t make these kinds of apps, or if they do, why don’t they take the time to make them too. Apple’s Find My is a good start, but it could clearly add more functionality like this.

It’s hard to scan for AirTags with Bluetooth tracking apps

Where I think these apps could improve – and where it may not be their fault – is identifying AirTags. You may have read about controversies surrounding the company’s tiny trackers, which are designed to help locate the various devices and items that are easily lost or targeted for theft. AirTags can fit on your keys, so you can easily fish them out of your couch and backpack, in case someone “accidentally” picks it up and leaves your location.

In that respect it is an excellent product. However, you can quickly spot the problem: if you can track an object, you can track a person. Apple did think of a solution hereHowever, if your iPhone detects a strange AirTag in the vicinity long enough and that AirTag is separated from its owner, it will alert you both as an announcement from your iPhone and via an audible warning from the AirTag itself. There is also an app for android users to manually search for AirTags in their area.

From what I can gather, these Bluetooth tracking apps are not picking up my AirTag. The fact that none of them do makes me wonder if there is something specific about the AirTag that is preventing it from showing up in a Bluetooth scan. I’ve seen complaints about the Android AirTag tracker app not working unless the AirTag was separated from its owner for a period of time: maybe that’s the issue here too. That’s hard to test though, as I also use my iPhone to run the Bluetooth scanning app.

Apple isn’t the only Bluetooth tracker in the game either: Tile makes these devices tooalthough I don’t have one myself. I can’t confirm if these apps can pick up Tile trackers in their scans, or if they have a similar problem to AirTags. Keep that 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. By paying the $4.99 ($7) one-time premium, you get access to “pro” features, such as playing a sound to find lost devices, notifications when devices are lost or found, a map of the Bluetooth devices in your area and free updates for future professional features.

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