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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Inside iOS: All about Apple Find My

Apple Find My gets more powerful by using more than a billion Apple devices out there. And it works not just for your Apple devices anymore.

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We use Apple Find My for those moments when we misplaced our AirPods or Apple Watch. Or those moments when we realize that our iPhone is missing. For many of us, Apple’s Find My is a lifesaver.

Today, Apple announced that third-party accessories can also start using the private and secure finding capabilities of Apple’s Find My network. This is possible by leveraging the global crowdsourced reach of hundred of millions of Apple device users even when what you are tracking is offline or not connected to the internet.

What is Apple Find My

The Find My app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac makes it easy to locate missing Apple devices. If you ever lost an Apple device, you can use the Find My app to locate the device on a map, play a sound to pinpoint its location, or put it in Lost Mode to lock it immediately and display a message with a contact number. It also lets you remotely erase the device in case it has fallen into the wrong hands to protect the data on your device.

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In addition to Apple devices, Find My activated third party support with iOS 14.3, iPadOS 14.3, and macOS Big Sur 11.1 or later. It added an Item tab where you can keep track of compatible third-party products using an encrypted, anonymous network of hundreds of millions of Apple devices. The first Find My enabled 3rd party products are VanMoof’s latest S3 and X3 e-bikes, the Belkin’s Soundform Freedom True Wireless Earbuds, and the Chipolo One Spot item finder.

What's new in Find My
What’s new in Find My. And the new Items page where you can identify found item.

Setup Apple Find My

To setup Apple Find My on your iPhone or iPad, you have to make sure that you’re signed in to your iCloud account and that System Location Services is Turned On. You can check for location services by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. The setting is at the bottom of the list.

  1. Go to Settings. Then tap on your name.
  2. Select Find My.
  3. Enable Find My iPhone, Find My Network, and Send Last Location.
Find My Settings Page.

Send Last Location is useful when your iPhone runs out of battery. The device automatically sends its last known location before it turns itself off so you can know where to find it. There is also an option to Share My Location that is useful when you want to share your location with your friends and family.

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How to use Apple Find My

When you open the Find My app and click on the Devices button, you’ll see the location of all your Apple devices as well as the last time your device communicated with the Find My network. We suggest you change the name of your iPhone to easier to identify, especially if you have multiple devices.

Find My Devices Page.
iPhone’s Find My Devices Page. We suggest you change the name of your device to make it easier to identify.

Clicking on a device gives you a set of options – you can play sounds on your device, and if lost, you can enable Lost Mode. Putting a device into Lost Mode allows you to lock it down and you can choose to add a phone number and a message in case someone comes across your device.

New in this update is the ability to find your device even if it’s offline or in another city or country. Your device emits bluetooth signal and will show up whenever it is near any Apple device. With more than a billion active Apple device out there, it’s a great possibility that anything can be found. It can further use the U1 chip to detect the precise direction of the device. Any person near a lost item will be notified. They can use the Find My app to see your message and get in touch. You’ll also get a notification when it’s located through another person’s device, and you’ll see its location on the map.

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It can easily find your missing item through anonymous and encrypted crowdsourcing. When you lose an item, you can optionally provide a message and phone number tied to the device. You won’t know the one who found your item won’t know who you are unless you’ve provided that detail. A map of the location where your item is found will be sent to you once an Apple device picks up its bluetooth beacon.

Third parties who wants to be eligible to the Find My network will work with Apple as part of its MFi program to get products certified. These devices will appear in the Items tab in the Find My app.

With all the new features and functionality of the new Find My, Apple is now getting closer for the rumored “AirTags” system similar to Tile.

Unknown Item Safety Alerts

Apple goes a step further with Safety Alerts. An “Anti-Stalking” feature that is unique to Find My. Apple sends you a notification whenever it detects an accessory that is moving with you. This is to prevent others from planting a tracking device on you.

Find My Item Safety Alerts.

If you get one of these alerts, you can tap to see the unknown item on a map or play a sound. You can also tap “Learn More About This Item” to get details, such as the serial number, and there is an option to disable the item so that it stops sharing your location. You can also contact law enforcement as the owner of the AirTag can be identified by Apple when authorities requests for it.

Disabling Find My

You won’t be able to pair a device that is still connected to an Apple ID. Don’t forget to disable your Find My whenever you sell an Apple device or you give one as a gift. To remove devices from Find My, just click on the device from the Find My app. Then click on Remove This Device. This will remove the device from your Apple ID and can now be associated to another person.

Article update April 15, 2021 to include the new third party accessories.

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