Pebblebee Tag 4

Google launched the Find My Device network on Android after a while long delayed (which was in Apple’s favor), but its launch promised AirTag-like trackers for Android users. It’s become very clear that the current state of the web does not compare to Apple, and now someone has tested it by dropping a few followers in the mail to see their progress.

So far, there are only a few followers for the Find My Device network. Two from Chipolo, three from Pebblebee. In our initial reviews of both sets of trackers, we quickly discovered that the glacially slow rollout of the network, combined with Google’s decision to limit it to “high traffic” areas by default, added up to trackers with incredibly limited functionality.

Google says it’s working on it, but it may be a while before you start seeing improvements.

Meanwhile, a test was conducted By Reddit user u/chiselplow shows the status of Find My Device trackers compared to the gold standard Apple AirTag.

On July 3rd, an AirTag and a Find My Device tracker from Pebblebee (no mention of which) were placed inside the package and mailed via the US Postal Service. AirTag provided location updates via a local truck and hub, as well as a larger truck en route to a larger warehouse. The Pebblebee tracker only provided one update when it was in that warehouse, and that update kept saying it was last seen in the user’s home.

This update finally stuck and on July 6th the package was delivered to its destination. AirTag continued to provide frequent updates on its location throughout the journey, including at other depots and even en route.

In the end, the Pebblebee tracker probably went back to saying it was last seen at the user’s home, never updating when it reached the last location. It is clear that the tracker appears at some point, but the fact that the collected data is effectively discarded is extremely strange.

Pebblebee Find My Device 1
Android's Find My Device tracker loses to AirTag in a mail test 4

There are a few questions here, such as whether the recipient of the package has an Android phone. However, it’s clear that trackers on Google’s network still can’t keep up with AirTag’s location tracking performance. Honestly, it makes sense. Google is taking a long time to fully roll out its network, and this test took place in the US, where it’s entirely plausible that an Android phone has never been around to properly update the tracker’s location due to the iPhone’s market share. .

In the end, it looks like a lot of this can be chalked up to the Find My Device network’s default “high traffic areas” setting. This limits Android phones from reporting a tracker’s location unless they’re in a “high-traffic” location – it’s not entirely clear what the threshold is. But random roads and warehouses maybe does not meet the criteria.

We’ve been planning to do a similar test once Find My Device becomes more widespread – stay tuned for more and let us know how Find My Device trackers work for you in the comments.

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