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7 best uses for AirTags, Tile, Orbit or any Bluetooth tracker

Got a new Bluetooth tracker? Here are ways to put these devices to use beyond finding your keys

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Trackers are the unsung heroes of the smart home space, and with Apple's recent launch of AirTags, there are even more to play with as well. These tiny gadgets pull more than their weight in what they can accomplish, helping people locate and find things in their home, office and from the bottom of a suitcase or bag with just one simple click or by checking a smartphone app.

So whether you own a new Apple AirTag, Tile, Orbit, TrackR, Pixie or another brand of trackers, here are seven ways to put these to use beyond the obvious.


Locate your car

Cars parked inside a parking garage

A tracker in your car may help you locate your vehicle that much faster

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While many cars have built in alarms connected to their key fobs, not everyone drives something new and shiny. For the rest of us, finding a car parked in a giant lot can be an exercise in frustration. A tracker tucked under a seat, inside a glove compartment or just on the floor, can get picked up by a tracker's app or Apple's Find My app, as you walk around trying to locate your vehicle.

Trackers, including AirTags, are picked up with a certain Bluetooth radius. Depending on how robust of a tracker that you have, these can be upwards of about 300 feet. So as you get closer, the tracker in your car will sound, and you'll have a better chance of getting out of the garage faster.


 Find your smartphone

A hand holding a smartphone

Most trackers can be used to reverse locate a smartphone just by clicking on the device

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The secret trick, well one that most people don't know necessarily, is that most trackers — although not Apple AirTags — can reverse locate a smartphone. Since they rely on Bluetooth connections to a smartphone app, the tracking gadgets can usually be clicked to find a phone.

First, download the app that works with your particular tracker, and link the tracker to the app. Then click it if you can't find your phone, which should — even if it's on silent mode — play a quick tune to help you locate it if it's within range.

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More visual and audible cues

Apple iPhone showing an AirTag location

Apple has added a new feature called Precision Finding which delivers audible, haptic and visual cues to find its AirTags

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Apple added more than an audible ping to help people locate its new AirTags — it also added visual and haptic cues, through a feature called Precision Finding, which works with the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12.

This brings up not only directional arrows on the screen within the Find My app, it also delivers feedback through vibrations, to let you know as you're getting closer. There are also distances notes so you'll be aware if you're one-foot or even five-feet away, and a pointer telling you which way to walk. These additional cues are helpful for anyone who has a vision impairment, is deaf or hard of hearing.

Take a Selfie 

People smiling for a selfie

Orbit trackers can work as a remote, and take a snap through the camera feature on your smartphone

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Orbit trackers have a fun extra trick in that they allow you to click a small side button on the device to activate the camera in your smartphone. You have to give permission within the Orbit app for it to access both your camera and photos. Once you do however, if the app is open, you can set up the camera on a tripod, and use the Orbit as a quick shutter remote.

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Put Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant to use

A bowl of popcorn with a remote control

You can locate a tracker by asking one of the voice assistants to help as well

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You can use your voice to actually locate trackers. Alexa and Google Assistant for example both work with Tile and also Orbit trackers, and Siri naturally is connected to Apple AirTags. That means you can ask Siri to find an AirTag, and Google Assistant to find your Orbit, and Alexa to locate that Tile. And if you happen to stick one on to your remote, you'll never have to dig through the couch cushions or your dog bed again to find that item again.

Avoid coat check mixups

\u200bA collection of coats hanging in a coat room

Tuck a tracker in your coat's pocket and you won't go home with someone else's wrap again

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Whether it's summer or winter, you'll find a cluster of black and navy blue coats inside any coatroom. While you may think you know your coat on sight, the person who hands your jacket, or what you think is your jacket, likely does not. After a drink or two, you may not be able to tell your wool trench from someone else's either.

Slip a tracker into an inside pocket, and you can make sure you have your coat before slipping it on your shoulders and heading out the door.

Luggage ID

Traveler waiting for a travel bag on the belt in airport

Ditch the piece of yarn, and use a tracker to help locate your bag at the airport

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Tying a string on luggage may have seemed, at first, like a clever idea, but the rainbow of ribbons at airport baggage claim areas will tell you otherwise.

A tracker, tucked into an outside pocket or inside as well, is the fastest way to make sure you walk off with your bag, and not something else's. We suggest that once arriving in baggage claim, you start activating the tracker so that if someone else starts to walk off your bag, they'll hear an unfamiliar ringing that hopefully alarms them enough to turn back. If not, the bag, well actually the tracker, should ping which will also alert you to your piece of luggage.

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