iOS 13: Everything You Need to Know About Apple's Find My App

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple in iOS 13 and iPadOS merged the Find My Friends and the Find My iPhone apps into one app that's just called "Find My," because, well, it's used for finding whatever you need to find.

    Find My works similarly to the Find My iPhone and Find My Friends apps that were previously available, but it has a nifty new feature that's designed to let you find your lost devices even when you don't have a WiFi or LTE connection.

    Note that this guide is designed to walk through all of the Find My features on iPhone and iPad, but it also applies to the Mac, which also has a new Find My app in macOS Catalina.


    Locating Lost Devices

    The Find My app is organized into three sections, accessible by tapping the tabs at the bottom. On the left, you can find people, in the middle, you can find your own devices, and on the right, there's a "Me" tab introduced during the beta testing process.

    As with the prior Find My iPhone app, all of your Apple products are listed. Devices where you're signed into iCloud and have the Find My feature enabled will be locatable through the Find My app.


    All of your devices are displayed on a map, and you can zoom in or out to get a better picture of their location. Tapping on a single device provides you with options to get directions to its location in Apple Maps, Play a Sound for locating a nearby lost device, or get a notification when it's found if it's offline.


    There's an option to mark a device as lost, which locks the lost device, disables Apple Pay, and allows contact information to be put right on the lock screen, and as a last resort, there's a tool for deleting all of your data.[*]How to Remove a Lost Device From Your iCloud Account in Find My
    [*]How to Mark an Apple Device as Lost in the Find My AppFind My Compatible Devices

    Almost all Apple products are Find My compatible, including iPhone, iPad, Macs, Apple Watch, and AirPods.

    Family Sharing

    If you have Family Sharing enabled, all of your family's devices will be listed in Find My right alongside your own, so you can also find devices from your partner or children through the Find My app.

    Locating Friends

    The Find My app allows you to locate friends and family members that have shared their location with you. You can view their location using the "People" tab within the Find My app.

    The Find My app lists people who have shared their location with you and, if you haven't shared your own location, offers up an option to do so.

    [*]How to Locate Friends Using Find MySharing Location

    If you press the "Share My Location" button, you can share your own location with any of your contacts even if they haven't shared a location with you. Tapping on a person's name in the list provides an option to bring up their Contacts card for sending a message or an option to get directions to their location.

    You'll also find tools for removing friends and turning off your own location sharing with the person if it's a mutual location sharing contact. You can opt to share your own location permanently, for an hour, or until the end of the day.
    [*]How to Turn Off Location Sharing Using Find My
    [*]How to Share Your Location With a Friend Using Find My
    [*]How to Stop Sharing Your Location With a Friend Using Find My

    For any person who's sharing a location with you, you can turn on notifications to get notifications when they leave or arrive at a specific location. There's also an option to notify your friend when you leave or arrive at a specific notification.
    [*]How to Receive Location Updates From a Friend Using Find My
    Me Tab

    The "Me" tab in the Find My app displays your current location and includes toggles for sharing location, allowing friend requests, choosing who to receive location updates from, and naming a specific place.


    Locating Devices Without a Connection

    One of the headline features of iOS 13 is a new Find My option that lets your lost devices be located even when not connected to WiFi or LTE by leveraging Bluetooth and proximity to other nearby Apple devices.

    When your lost device is offline but close to another device, it's able to connect to that other device over Bluetooth and relay its location. That means that your devices are more trackable than ever, and there's a better chance you can find a device that's been lost.

    The iPad Pro and MacBook in this screenshot are locatable without a connection. The iPad Pro has WiFi turned off while the MacBook was closed.​

    Tracking a device in this way requires Bluetooth to be enabled because location is shared with another device using Bluetooth. Turning off Bluetooth or power makes your device untrackable, but if it's on, has Bluetooth, and is near another Apple device, it will potentially be trackable even if it can't connect to WiFi or LTE.

    You're not going to notice a difference in the Find My app when tracking a device over Bluetooth rather than a cellular or WiFi connection -- it simply shows up in the list of devices like any other device that does have a standard connection. Offline devices do have their distance from you listed in gray instead of blue, and you can tell when the location data was last updated by the time listed.

    In testing, setting an iPad into Airplane mode and enabling Bluetooth continued to allow the iPad to be tracked thanks to another nearby iPhone, but turning off Bluetooth prevented it from being found even from a device to device connection.

    How It Works

    Implementing the device to device location feature while preserving privacy was quite a feat and the technical details of how it works are quite complicated, but Apple has given a high level overview of how it functions.

    Basically, it's been designed with an encryption system that prevents people from abusing the feature for doing things like tracking you. That encryption system makes your personal location unavailable to people aiming to intercept your device's Bluetooth signal and from Apple itself.

    Find My requires Apple users to have at least two devices. Each of your devices emits a constantly changing public key that nearby Apple devices pick up, encrypt, and upload with your geolocation data.

    To decrypt that location signal, you need a second Apple device logged in with your Apple ID credentials and protected with two-factor authentication. Essentially, only your own devices can decrypt the encrypted location signal that's being sent from a lost device, no one, not even Apple, can intercept it and locate you or your devices.

    As an example scenario, if you were on an airplane, had your iPhone in Airplane Mode with Bluetooth on, and then left it behind on the plane accidentally, it would potentially still be trackable.

    In this situation, a flight attendant or an airport worker with an iPhone might come across it. The flight attendant's own iPhone would connect to your lost iPhone over Bluetooth by picking up your public key.

    The flight attendant's iPhone would then upload your device's encrypted location and a hash of your public key (for identification purposes) to Apple's servers, where one of your own devices will be able to receive the encrypted info and decrypt it to make the offline device able to be tracked.


    Because the entire Find My system is end-to-end encrypted, other people can't get the location of your devices using Bluetooth, nor can Apple. Lost devices are trackable only by you.

    Device Impact

    According to Apple, Find My's background Bluetooth location tracking feature uses just tiny bits of data piggybacked on existing network traffic so there's no impact on device battery life, data usage, or privacy.

    Find My Rumors

    Rumors have suggested Apple plans to expand Find My's functionality through the introduction of a new hardware product that's similar to the Tile Bluetooth item tracker.

    Apple is said to be working on a tag that can be attached to any item that would allow it to be tracked. Like Tile, Apple's rumored tracker reportedly lets users receive a notification when a device gets too far from the tag, potentially cutting down on lost items.

    Guide Feedback

    Have questions about Find My, know of a feature we left out, or want to offer feedback on this guide? Send us an email here.

    Article Link: iOS 13: Everything You Need to Know About Apple's Find My App
  2. sergekills macrumors regular


    Mar 22, 2017
    Moscow, Russia
    I downgraded from beta of iOS 13, but still have a question about Find My app.
    How do I log in with another Apple ID in there? For example, a friend lost his iPhone, and we have no laptop nearby, he doesn't have any other Apple devices handy.
    On iOS 12 I can just simply sign out of my account and then sign in with another one. How do you perform this now? Because I didnt find that option.
  3. Kabeyun macrumors 68020


    Mar 27, 2004
    Eastern USA
    What if you don’t want your Family Sharing members to know your location? I presume they thought of that and made it configurable.
  4. scoobdriver macrumors regular

    Aug 1, 2011
    No widget or watch app. Running the iOS 13 beta on my phone have now lost find my friends on Apple Watch. Is it coming. ?
  5. Konigi macrumors member


    Jan 24, 2017
    Montréal, Québec
    That sounds worrisome -- "receiving notifications about their location". Like parents keeping track of their kids' whereabouts? What about children's autonomy?
    Haven't Apple seen Black Mirror?
  6. Pipper99 macrumors 68020


    Aug 14, 2010
    Fort Worth, TX
    Exactly my thought. My father in law misplaces his phone rather often. Our plans are unrelated, and I don't want to include him on Family Sharing, but I have been able to just sign in to his account and find his phone. I don't use Family Sharing at all, and I don't want to have to use it.
  7. mariusignorello macrumors 68000

    Jun 9, 2013
    You can turn it off.
  8. heov macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2002
    Can we disable the snitching feature? For example, suppose I'm a regular iPhone theif, and I also use an iPhone. I of course know better and will shut down the stolen iPhone ASAP, but if I forget, or my partner in crime forgets, how can we ensure our personal iPhones aren't used by Apple to track the device?

    But in all seriousness, is there a way to opt out of this feature? Although the intentions are good, what if Apple or the government loses something (or someone), and they want to harness the power of our phones to find it? Should we simply allow that?

    Basically, I don't want to be a link in Apple's chain, for no other reason than I don't want to.

    Going "off the grid" might mean you can't even use an iPhone at all (or BT). BT is no longer just a personal area network.
  9. Classie macrumors regular

    Nov 3, 2018
    This is awesome! Will it work if the device is turn off? Is that possible?

    If Apple releases some kind of Tile like item I will buy them all!! I’m sick of having my things stolen; bicycles, baby strollers!
  10. JetTester macrumors 6502

    Feb 12, 2014
    The device-to-device feature and the Tile tags feature sound very useful. I’m interested in seeing them in action.
  11. GrumpyMom macrumors 604


    Sep 11, 2014
  12. hank moody macrumors 6502a

    hank moody

    Jan 18, 2015
    This article is incorrect.

    The location sent to Apple servers is the location of the sender device and NOT the location of the lost device. It is the same, because they are nerby, but it is incorrect saying it is the lost device's location.

    The lost device doesnt have GPS to know where it is.
    The only thing that all devices are constantly emitting to nearby devices is their public key, nothing more.
  13. jahall05 macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2013
    What happened to being able to share my location from another device?
  14. hank moody macrumors 6502a

    hank moody

    Jan 18, 2015
    You can't.
    You need the Private Key that is stored locally in your devices, to unlock the Public Key in the Apple servers.
  15. steve23094 macrumors 68030


    Apr 23, 2013
    I’m at the pub and scanned the article. But hang on... if you can turn off Bluetooth to defeat this, then what is the point?
  16. MisterSavage macrumors 6502a


    Nov 10, 2018
    This functionality already exists today in iOS 12. A less nefarious example is making sure someone got home safely.
  17. timborama macrumors 6502a


    Oct 12, 2011
    Apple has it.
  18. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    One, a thief might not know how to defeat it, and more importantly, two, for when a device is lost, not stolen, and thus nobody is trying to defeat anything.
  19. BuddyTronic macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008

    You can turn Bluetooth off, But that’s not a great solution if you were wanting Bluetooth for other things.

    You can probably opt out pretty easily in settings. That works for you I think.

    It’s all transparent to the end users and nobody knows or judges good and bad any more that you would be resentful that you are being bombarded from every angle right now by radio waves of all kinds - some carrying “bad” information potentially - have you considered that? Because it’s nearly the same thing - this just uses crowd based cooperation and you want to know if you can opt out of being part of the crowd - I get it, but don’t see this anonymous encrypted scheme as being intrusive - maybe I’ll learn more in the coming months
  20. ThatGuyInLa macrumors 6502


    Oct 26, 2012
    Glendale, Ca.
    That “My phone is lost” feature is great. At least when there’s people around with even a little moral compass. Lost mine at a casino in Vegas. Sin City, right? Morals be dammed! Yet, someone dropped it off at the help desk when they saw the alert. NEAT.
  21. noraa macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2003
    It’s fairly trivial to turn off location sharing in the “Find My.”
  22. Focusx0131 macrumors member


    Feb 23, 2017
    I’m on the 13 beta on my XR and these are my Find My iPhone options. Should address your concerns.

    Attached Files:

  23. libertysat macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2010
    "Rumors have suggested Apple plans to expand Find My's functionality through the introduction of a new hardware product that's similar to the Tile Bluetooth item tracker.

    Apple is said to be working on a tag that can be attached to any item that would allow it to be tracked. Like Tile, Apple's rumored tracker reportedly lets users receive a notification when a device gets too far from the tag, potentially cutting down on lost items."

    I have some Tiles and like them
    However if Apple came out with something real similar without too large of an Apple tax - would be great
  24. scrapesleon macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2017
  25. Newjackboy macrumors 6502

    Aug 6, 2012
    What if you had just temporarily turned off Bluetooth on your iPhone. And then it was stolen / lost a few minutes later? Would this feature still work? Anyway to remotely force BlueTooth back on?

Share This Page

52 July 5, 2019