Chipolo Ahoy! The ONE Spot Find My Network Tracker Arrives
The Chipolo ONE Spot has become the first shipping third-party tracking device that uses Apple’s Find My network. The Find My network relays a compatible device’s regularly refreshed encrypted ID via Bluetooth through every nearby iPhone, iPad, and Mac that hasn’t opted out. These relays add location data, enabling a tracker’s owner to find a device with a pinpointed location, just like Apple’s own tracker, the AirTag. (See “Apple’s AirTag Promises to Help You Find Your Keys,” 20 April 2021.)
The ONE Spot works nearly identically to the AirTag; it even costs about the same. Apple offers AirTags with free shipping at $29 for one and $99 for a four-pack; engraving is optional and free. The Chipolo ONE Spot costs $28 for one and currently $90 for a four-pack; shipping is free for an order of $50 or more.
Because of Apple’s rules regarding participation in the Find My network, the same anti-tracking strategies apply to Chipolo’s products as to Apple’s:
- If a ONE Spot is moving with someone whose device would relay its signal and the owner of the ONE Spot isn’t nearby for a period of time, the owner receives an alert. (See “When You’re Told an AirTag Is Moving with You,” 4 June 2021.)
- If a ONE Spot isn’t near the owner for an extended period of time, currently set by Apple to a random interval between 8 and 24 hours, it will play a sound. (See “13 AirTag Tracking Scenarios,” 15 May 2021.)
The ONE Spot is 1.5 inches (37 mm) in diameter and .25 inches (5 mm) thick. It has an integral button you compress as part of the pairing process in the Find My app on an iPhone or iPad. An AirTag is 1.25 inches (30 mm) in diameter and the thickness at its widest point is also .25 inches. The ONE Spot requires iOS 14.3 or iPadOS 14.3 or later.
As similar as the ONE Spot is to the AirTag, there are a few significant differences:
- Precision: The ONE Spot includes only Bluetooth connectivity. It lacks the ultrawideband (UWB) radio built into AirTags that enables precision short-range finding within about 30 feet (10 m) that’s useful within a house, car, or other space. The lack of UWB support makes the ONE Spot useful for finding objects vaguely nearby or at a distance. It also makes the price tag harder to justify, given that it costs nearly the same as an AirTag. Perhaps that’s not surprising—Chipolo doesn’t have Apple’s massive economies of scale—but it makes a consumer purchasing decision more difficult.
- Loudness: Holy smokes, this thing is loud. Chipolo says it produces a sound that may be as loud as 120 decibels. That’s in the chainsaw/aircraft takeoff range. An AirTag is much quieter. Chipolo says it doesn’t need UWB because “Ultra-wideband technology is used for precision finding at close distances, which the Chipolo ONE Spot already covers with a very loud ring.”
- Key-ring hole: Chipolo included a nifty hole in the ONE Spot so you can thread it onto a key ring. That may improve the ONE Spot’s price comparison, given that you’ll need to buy an accessory to attach an AirTag to a key ring.
- Materials and robustness: While an AirTag is a durable combination of metal and a coated hard plastic, the ONE Spot is entirely uncoated plastic. It has a nice finish, but I expect it to mar easily and not survive the same kinds of crunches an AirTag would.
- Different ID method for finders: While Apple’s AirTags rely on NFC to allow any device with a reader—including iPhones and Android phones—to pull up a Web page associated with a found AirTag, Chipolo’s reliance on Bluetooth forces a more complicated approach. The finder of a ONE Spot must launch Find My on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch; tap the Items button; and then tap Identify Found Item. Apple appears to require Bluetooth-only ID for all third-party items; we’ll see if that remains true. [Bullet added 2021-09-06.]
Beyond those differences, the ONE Spot also channels Henry Ford, letting you pick whatever color you want, as long as it’s black. Oddly, Chipolo’s non-Find My devices come in a few different colors.
Why buy a ONE Spot over an AirTag? If you’d prefer to buy non-Apple gear, want a built-in key-ring hole, or want a tracker that produces a truly astonishing sound when marked as lost, the ONE Spot is your device.
Nice. I was considering something like this for attaching to a remote control used in a classroom. The students would be the reason: instructors from other classrooms tend to “borrow” when one is missing from theirs, since the displays use the same remote. The installers use that cheap coiled plastic with adhesive, which limits range as its fixed to the display. I think spraypainting a number on the Chipolo, and VHB it to the remote, would allow tracking on the campus/building. Thoughts?
If nothing else, you could turn on the sound and keep it on until the remote reappeared in your hands….
And VHB isn’t perfect…I have a clip that I adhered using it to a hard case for my glasses and if I drop the case just right or otherwise impact it in a certain fashion, the clip pops right off. But, I can stick the clip right back on and can’t pull it off. Haven’t had any luck figuring that out.
Not an AirTag but this device is interesting as it uses the Helium LoRa network for tracking - promises long battery life 6 months and low subscription cost - free for 3 years then $20 / year.
They also talk about their other product that uses some type of new LTE band
Invoxia Cellular GPS Tracker include a SIM card and 1 year subscription* to the brand new LTE Cat-M1 networks (relying on 4G) operating among others on AT&T in the USA. Invoxia is among the first to release a Tracker using this affordable technology: classic GSM trackers have subscription fees up to 20$ per months and hidden activation fees.
No Affiliation but I may buy one to compliment my 5 air tags
Sounds interesting. What are you wanting to use it on, maybe a bike of some kind I presume?
My current cheapo Chinese-import Fiido D2 heavy folding ebike only has ~10m range on full throttle mode, and it’s impossible to peddle when dead. So I’ve been toying with getting a new ebike here in London, UK. But every time I consider pulling the trigger, I’m worried by bike theft on relatively expensive (for me, at least) ebikes.
While I’m certainly not buying one of those clever folding lightweight carbon-fibre GoCycles (~£4K/$5K!), nor one of those very nice and pretty Riese & Müller ones (£6K/$7.5K) – yikes price, for moi. Even an ‘average’ (non-crap!) VanMoof S3 or X3, or maybe a long-range Wau Bike are £2.5-3K ($3-4K), as are similar ones.
Yes, the VanMoof has its own tracking and AirTag functionality built-in, while the Wau has tracking of some kind too, but how good are they should the worst happen and they get stolen. Even the best folding Abus or Kryptonite locks seem to be breakable these days.
Any bike I use has to be parked on bike racks on-street, as I use my bike for errands all the time, not just weekend entertainment. (Though hopefully a better one might mean more of the latter, given the range.)
My interest in trackers at this time is not for locating items “lost” away from home but “mislaid” within the house, like our dog’s leash, keys, wallet, purse etc. I tried the latest Tile finder and found it entirely underwhelming using it with either Alexa or their cell phone app. It takes an eternity to “find” the dogleash while I am holding it in my hand in the living room and then tells me it is “near the kitchen.”
For less than the cost of one “tracker” of any brand, I tried a set of 4 of these with a remote which I velcro’d to the table next to my lazyboy chair, and it finds everything instantly and loud and clear. Hence, for mislaid items in the house, I won’t waste my money on buying any of the current trackers, but maybe another set of these:
I am looking to use it on our fleet of regular non electric bikes and it’s crazy that some non electric mountain bikes are $10k - like the one that was stolen from my neighbors garage some two months ago. Tracking my kids would be fun too but we can do that once they get phones I guess. And one might say why would you want to do that, just read the headlines about the crazy S… that goes down at schools in the US. In our town there is an big uptick in bike theft and currently I use an AirTag on my wife bike - bikes about $400 value or less. It’s a cheap, $30 and somewhat reliable solution. I often ask my pals who all seem to have $3000+ road and mountain bikes if they have a tracker and the answer is almost always no. Guess they have good insurance
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