In 2021, Apple introduced AirTag tracking tiles as a solution to help users locate non-Apple devices. The Find My app, developed by Apple, also extends its tracking capabilities to items made by third-party manufacturers. This feature proves especially valuable for travelers.
The foundation for AirTag was laid in 2014 with the introduction of iBeacon, a small and affordable Bluetooth transmitter that provided location-based information and services to iPhones. While Bluetooth technology can track items within a range of approximately 5 meters, the integration of ultrawideband (UWB) technology in AirTag allows for precise tracking within a range of 5 to 10 centimeters. Speculations about Apple’s development of a device to rival Tile Bluetooth trackers emerged in 2019, following hints found in the code for iOS 13 and the incorporation of UWB technology in the iPhone 11. Finally, in April 2021, Apple unveiled its long-awaited AirTag tracker to the public.
What’s an AirTag?
AirTag is a versatile device that functions similarly to Tile tags. It can be securely attached to various items such as key rings, bags, or even slipped into wallets or bags. By pairing the AirTag with compatible devices like your iPhone and utilizing the Find My app, you can conveniently track and locate your belongings.
The AirTag itself is a compact, lightweight stainless-steel disc featuring the iconic Apple logo on one side. On the other side, you have the option to personalize it with a complimentary engraving. Designed to withstand water and dust, the AirTag also includes a removable cover, allowing for easy battery replacement. With everyday use, the CR2032 battery provides up to a year’s worth of battery life.
AirTags Pricing and Where to Buy
AirTags are available for purchase at a price of $29 per tag or $99 for a four-pack in the US (£29 or £99 in the UK, and AU$45 or AU$149 in Australia). You can buy them from authorized retailers such as Apple, Amazon, or Best Buy. While not mandatory, Apple offers various keychain accessories that make it easier to attach AirTags to your belongings, including options from Hermès. Here’s an overview of the accessory options provided by Apple:
- AirTag leather key ring priced at $35.
- AirTag leather loop priced at $39.
- AirTag polyurethane loop priced at $29.
- Belkin Secure Holder with strap priced at $13.
- Belkin Secure Holder with key ring priced at $13.
Each accessory is available in different colors, providing you with customization options. Furthermore, Apple has collaborated with Hermès to create the AirTag Hermès line, featuring handcrafted leather bag charms, key rings, and travel and luggage tags. The AirTag Hermès products include:
- AirTag Hermès key ring, starting at $349.
- AirTag Hermès bag charm, starting at $299.
- AirTag Hermès luggage charm, starting at $449.
These exclusive Hermès products add a touch of luxury and style to your AirTag experience.
How does the AirTag work?
Once you have set up your AirTag, which involves a similar process to pairing AirPods, it will appear in the new items tab of the Find My app. You have the option to name your items using suggestions from the app or your own custom names.
Through the Find My app, you can track the last known location of your item to which the AirTag is attached. If the item is within Bluetooth range, you can use the Find My app to play a sound on the AirTag’s built-in speaker, helping you locate it. AirTags also support Siri, allowing you to ask your iOS assistant for assistance in finding your lost item.
AirTags utilize Apple’s U1 chip with Ultra Wideband technology and take advantage of Precision Finding, a feature that combines camera input, ARKit, accelerometer, and gyroscope to guide you to your AirTag using audio, haptic, and visual feedback. The Find My app provides helpful information such as the distance and direction to your AirTag. Precision Finding even includes a voice-over option to assist users with low vision or blindness.
If your AirTag is out of Bluetooth range, you can activate Lost mode, and you will receive a notification when it comes within range of the Find My network. If someone else finds your AirTag, they can use an iPhone or an NFC-capable device (including some Android phones) to view your contact number if you have provided one.
Are my personal details kept private with AirTags?
Apple prioritizes privacy, and it assures users that they can participate in the Find My network without sharing their location with anyone, including Apple. To discourage unwanted tracking, safety features have been implemented. During the Apple spring event, Carolyn Wolfman-Estrada, an Apple engineer, emphasized that AirTags are designed to track items, not people.
However, there have been reports of AirTags being used for stalking, prompting state officials to issue warnings about the potential misuse and abuse of AirTags for tracking others.
To address these concerns, Apple has introduced additional security features to prevent malicious use of AirTags. These include reducing the time period for non-owners to be notified of an AirTag’s presence, improved warning sounds, a tracker detection app for Android devices, and an alert during setup that emphasizes the AirTag’s connection to your Apple ID and its design to facilitate law enforcement in requesting identifying information about the AirTag’s owner.
To further protect yourself from being tracked, there are additional precautions you can take. AirTags do not store any location data or history, and communication history through the Find My app is encrypted end-to-end, as stated by Apple.
What customization options are available for engraving on AirTags?
After purchasing an AirTag, Apple offers the option to have one side of the tag engraved for free. During the ordering process, you can select from the letters of the alphabet, numbers (zero through 50), and a variety of 31 different emoji. Due to the small size of the tag, you can choose up to four characters to be engraved on the back. As you make your selection of emoji, letters, and numbers, a preview will show you how the engraving will appear on the tag.
What are the requirements for using AirTags?
To utilize AirTags, you will need a device that runs on iOS 14.5 or a later version. Additionally, you must have an Apple ID to sign in to your iCloud account. The following devices are compatible with AirTags:
- iPhone SE, 6S, or any later models
- iPod Touch (7th generation or later)
- iPad Pro (5th generation or later)
- iPad Air 2 or any later models
- iPad Mini 4 or any later models