A support document on Apple’s website details how AirTags will work with an Android smartphone if you don’t have your iPhone available at hand. However, the Tile competitor will only have limited support for Android devices (via The Verge).
Apple’s AirTags work by securely communicating with Bluetooth devices and iPhones equipped with ultra-wideband that are in the area. If these trackers exclusively worked with Apple devices it would severely limit their effectiveness.
But it appears that the AirTags won’t work out of the box with an Android device. Customers will also not be able to use an Android device instead of an iPhone with them. Instead, the AirTags will only work with Android devices equipped with NFC and only communicate when they are in Lost Mode.
“First, you’ll need to use your iPhone to activate Lost Mode, which is supposed to show you on a map where your AirTag has wandered off to. Then if someone with an Android device finds your lost AirTag, they can hold it up to their NFC-equipped phone and get details on how to contact you. They’ll only be able to get details if the Lost Mode is activated, which should help with privacy concerns.”
Meanwhile, Tile is reportedly working on an AirTag competitor that should work equally well on both iOS and Android devices.