Apple Airtags Review
Following months of speculation, Apple finally launched its lost item tracker last month. The AirTag is a small plastic disc that works so well that it may threaten not only the entire business of Tile (the Silicon Valley company known for its eponymous trackers) but also personal privacy. Apple, on the other hand, is working hard to prevent the latter, and I believe it will succeed. It is, after all, Apple.
Apple Airtags Design
The AirTag is slightly larger (1.26-inch diameter), heavier (11g), and roughly the thickness (8mm) of two stacked coins. The white side is made of plastic, while the other is made of aluminum. The aluminum part can be unscrewed to reveal a CR2032 battery inside. According to Apple, the battery will power the AirTag for a year. These batteries are small and inexpensive enough that most people should have no trouble replacing them.
They’re small and light enough to fit inside most wallets’ coin pouches or the small key pocket in a pair of jeans. The AirTag is designed to be attached to items such as keys, luggage, or laptop bags, allowing us to track their whereabouts if they are misplaced or stolen.
However, because Apple is Apple, the AirTag in its raw form cannot naturally attach to anything. There are no holes (as on Tile or Samsung trackers) for a simple loop around key rings, and no clip to wrap around a suitcase zipper.
Unless you’re willing to do something cheesy like tape or glue the AirTag to an item, you’ll need to purchase an accessory like a loop or strap, which Apple will gladly sell you for anywhere from $30 to $440 (it’s a Hermes branded leather luggage strap with a slot for the AirTag). The good news is that because Apple products are so popular, dozens, if not hundreds, of other brands will be producing far less expensive accessories within a month.
How To Connect Airtag To iPhone
It is simple to set up your AirTag. Simply pull the battery tab, bring it up to your iPhone, and press the Connect button. It’s similar to how you’d set up a pair of AirPods. I had to update my iPhone to iOS 14.5, sign in to my iCloud account, and verify my iPhone’s lock code. Even with the extra steps, the procedure was simple.
How do Airtags work?
The AirTag does not have GPS capability. Rather, it sends out regular pings to devices in Apple’s Find My network. As a result, the more iPhones, iPads, or Macs that are connected to the Internet near the AirTag, the faster it will be discovered and the more accurate its reported location will be. This fits a fairly consistent theme with some of Apple’s products and services: they are clearly aimed at people living in or near major metropolitan areas. AirTag, like AppleCare and a variety of other Apple offerings, become far less appealing in rural or other low-density settings where there aren’t as many Apple services or devices nearby.
But, perhaps more than the App Store or anything else, this is where Apple has an advantage that Tile simply cannot match. In most major US cities, you could throw a rock (or an AirTag) in any direction at random and it would most likely land within two meters of an Apple product. Because of that network of devices, your AirTag will be relatively easy to locate.
Apple AirTags Introduction
Apple AirTags Introduction
We didn’t directly compare an AirTag to a Tile device, but other publications did, and as expected, they discovered that an AirTag took significantly less time to locate than a Tile device in a public place. Simply put, there are more check-in points for the AirTag, which makes finding it faster and more accurate.
In any case, the Find My network is only the beginning of the process. When you’re close enough, use the Find My app to make the AirTag make a noise to help you find it. If you have a recent iPhone (iPhone 11 or later) equipped with Apple’s new U1 ultra-wideband chip, you can use an ultra-precise on-screen locator to locate the device once you’re in the same room.
Finally, if you know the AirTag is missing and need it to be found, you can set it to “Lost Mode.” You’ll provide your phone number, which other iOS users who find the AirTag can use to contact you. Furthermore, you will be notified as soon as its location is determined in the Find My network.
Apple AirTags Privacy and safety
According to Apple, the entire process, from the AirTag itself to the devices that discover and report its location is anonymous and end-to-end encrypted. Apple also assures users that any information about their AirTag will be visible only to them. None of the data is stored on the AirTag, and the Bluetooth signals of the Find My network rotate frequently. Apple anticipated this concern, and to its credit, it has done far more than any competitor selling these types of trackers to address it. But I’ll tell you right now that I still don’t think Apple has done enough.