Apple’s Find My app has been a staple of the iOS experience for years, starting life as Find My iPhone back in 2010.
While the app was initially restricted to finding lost Apple devices, the idea has evolved, with Apple merging Find My iPhone and its partner app Find My Friends into a single Find My app with the release of iOS 13, allowing the ability to track your Apple devices, friends and family, and more recently, items, from one place.
While the idea of tracking someone’s location can be off-putting, it’s worth pointing out that Find My location sharing is an opt-in service – you can’t just select someone from your contacts and get access to their location data. That’d be a massive invasion of privacy.
Instead, friends and family can decide to share their location with you for a limited time – ideal if you’re meeting a friend in a large area – or indefinitely.
Whether tracking Apple devices, items or people using Apple’s Find My app, we’ve got all you need to know right here.
Which devices is the Find My app available on?
Being an Apple service, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Find My is exclusive to Apple devices – Android users will have to look elsewhere.
The good news is that, because the Find My app was released alongside iOS 13, there are plenty of iPhones and iPads with access to the app. Mac users had to wait a little longer, but it eventually came with the release of macOS Big Sur.
Just to clarify, the Find My app is available to download on:
- All iPhones running iOS 13 or later
- All iPads running iPadOS 13.1 or later
- All Macs running macOS Big Sur
There’s also a web app available via icloud.com for existing users on PC or Mac, handy if the iOS device you usually use to access the app gets lost or stolen.
Locating devices on Find My
Let’s start by delving a little deeper into locating Apple devices on the Find My app – after all, it was the foundation of the Find My iPhone app experience at release back in 2010.
Simply open the Find My app and tap the Devices tab at the bottom to bring up a list of all your Apple products. Any device that you’ve set up, linked to your iCloud account and enabled the Find My tracking feature should be listed within the app. If you’ve got Family Sharing enabled, all your family’s devices will be listed too.
Your devices are displayed in the form of a list, but their locations are also represented on a map in the form of icons, and you can zoom in to get a better idea of where you might’ve left those pesky AirPods you’ve been looking for.
You can also tap on a particular device to get access to advanced features, including the options to play a sound to help locate a nearby device, and the ability to get directions to its location via Apple Maps if it’s further away. If it’s marked as offline, you can also set a notification for when it reconnects.
If you think it really could be gone, you can mark the device as lost. This will disable Apple Pay and displays contact information (and a custom message) on the lock screen to prompt whoever finds it to get in contact with you. If you’re concerned about the data on the device falling into the wrong hands, you can also go nuclear and wipe the device remotely by tapping Erase This Device.
Finding friends and family on Find My
Not long after the ability to track your own devices arrived, Apple also introduced the ability to locate friends and family that have shared their location data with you via the People tab in the Find My app.
Like when finding Apple devices, all your friends and family are listed and shown on a map.
Tap on a particular person to contact them or get directions to their current location in Apple Maps – but be warned, their location won’t update in Apple Maps if they leave while you’re on your way to them. You can set notifications to avoid this, letting you know when they leave their current location, or when they arrive at a particular location – perfect for keeping an eye on kids.
You can also use the menu to name frequent locations, making it easier to see where friends and family are at a glance, and you can also stop sharing your location with the contact if you want to go incognito.
Locating items on Find My
The most recent addition to the Find My app is the ability to track items using Apple’s Find My network of over 1bn iPhones and iPads worldwide, and it works in a similar way to Bluetooth trackers from the likes of Tile, utilising Bluetooth Low-Energy to anonymously communicate with the network when in range of a compatible device.
Apple has its own Bluetooth tracker, the AirTag, that can be attached to items like keys and wallets, but you’ve also got a selection of third-party items including Belkin earbuds, Chipolo tags and a VanMoof electric bike, and the selection will likely expand over time.
Like other features, you can get an overview of your tracked gadgets in the Items tab of the Find My app, and you can see them on a map overlay too. It works in a similar way to finding Apple devices, allowing you to activate a chime to help locate the gadget nearby, and you can set notifications if it moves from its current location too.
If you’re using an AirTag with an iPhone 11 or later, you’ll also be able to use Apple’s UWB-based Precision Location to guide you to the exact location of the tracker within 40ft.