I lost my AirPods case on the bus, but Apple's free Find My feature saved me – here's how

Image of the AirPods Pro 2 in action during launch
(Image credit: TechRadar)

Losing something is never fun. Not only is there the potential financial burden of replacing the lost item but, for me anyway, there’s a crippling sense of humiliation that I was able to be so careless and not take greater care of my belongings. 

Both these feelings hit me with a formidable blow recently, when I somehow left my AirPods Pro 2 case on a bus on a trip home in Sydney, Australia. I’m not sure how it happened – as far as I remember, the case was in my bag, which was folded up on my lap for the majority of the journey. But it happened. 

It wasn’t until I got home that the screen of my iPhone 13 Pro lit up with a notification from the Find My app, telling me my case was going on a little journey of its own around the city of Sydney. 

Find My app showing location of AirPods and AirPods case

The actual AirPods with me at home, and my case going for a joyride. (Image credit: Future)

Cue feelings of financial burden and humiliation. 

I tried to turn these into a positive. The fact I was able to view the location of my AirPods Pro 2 case, which was being continuously updated and appeared to be on the bus route I’d just gotten off from, did give me a slight feeling of reassurance. The fact it hadn’t deviated from the bus route meant it wasn’t in the pocket of someone else and potentially beginning a second journey to an online marketplace. 

It was because of this reassurance that I decided I could relax a little before chasing after the case. Nevertheless, I activated the ‘Mark As Lost’ feature, which told me I would be notified when a location for the case became available. This feature also said it would lock the AirPods so that they couldn’t be linked to any other Apple ID and that if someone did find them, a message would appear on their iPhone with my phone number that they could call. 

I can’t say for sure if any of these features worked because not only did I have the actual AirPods on me (it was just the case that I’d lost), but I never received a notification or a phone call. This could either be because nobody with an iPhone found the case, or that both the AirPods and their case need to be lost for the feature to work. 

Find My app showing separate locations for AirPods and AirPods case

The AirPods still with me and the case taking a detour. (Image credit: Future)

I continued to track the case’s location in Find My and soon noticed it had settled in a location both far from the bus route and far from my home. Upon zooming in on the map integrated into Find My, it appeared the case had found a new home in either an apartment block or a university. 

The feelings of financial burden for having to replace the case came rushing back. 

Unsure if some plucky young student had found the case and taken it home, I posted a screenshot of the case’s location to a local Facebook group, on the off chance that whoever had it was also a member and would come clean. Some users in the group relieved my fears once again when they told me there was actually a bus depot in the approximate location the Find My app was showing my AirPods Pro case to be, but it just wasn’t showing up on the map. 

Sure enough, a quick Google Search revealed there was indeed a bus depot there. But it was closed for the weekend. The AirPods themselves had run out of battery by this point (they might rank among the best wireless earbuds in many ways, but the battery life is very average), and without any other way of charging them, I went the rest of the weekend separated from my music. 

As soon as Monday morning came around, I found a phone number for the depot (painstakingly, I might add) called it and described the case to them. Top tip, everyone: put your AirPods case into a case of its own. Mine has a gray silicone case, which made it much easier to describe for the person at lost property. 

Great news! The case was there, so I made my way over and soon had it in-hand.

Holding AirPods Pro case in hand

Reunited and it feels so good. (Image credit: Future)

The Find My feature proved to be invaluable, and cemented the AirPods Pro 2 as being a pair of the best true wireless earbuds currently available. I wasn’t aware that the case was able to display a location when separated from the AirPods themselves. I’ve received notifications on my iPhone before when I’ve left my AirPods at the office while I step out for lunch, but I assumed this was because they were still paired with the case.

Ultimately, some people may balk at the cost of some Apple tech, but based on my experience, that whole things about them 'just working' is pretty true. If it weren’t for the Find My location tracking, I would be heading straight to our best headphone deals page to find myself a replacement.

Max Langridge
Staff Writer

Max is a senior staff writer for TechRadar who covers home entertainment and audio first, NBN second and virtually anything else that falls under the consumer electronics umbrella third. He's also a bit of an ecommerce fiend, particularly when it comes to finding the latest coupon codes for a variety of retailers. Hailing from the United Kingdom, Max spent a combined five years writing for What Hi-Fi? and Pocket-lint, before moving to Australia in 2018. After a brief stint writing for men’s lifestyle publications, Max is back to working on his first passion of technology.