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We’ve heard rumors Apple is working on a personal items tracker called AirTags for more than a year now. As of today, they are official. Here’s everything you need to know.
What are they?
AirTags are Tile-like trackers that you are able to attach to pretty much anything to monitor location. So think handbag, keys, backpack, etc.
The gizmo beams notifications to the user if they move too far away from the item. The tech taps into Apple’s global Find My network all the while keeping location info private and anonymous with end-to-end encryption.
Small circular design
As far as looks, AirTags come in the form of a small, flat circular device. For some reason they don’t have a keyring hole but you can slip them into accessories which allow you to attach securely to items. This includes a Polyurethane Loop, Leather Loop, and Leather Key Ring, along with an AirTag Hermès Travel Tag. All of these are sold separately.
AirTags are made of polished stainless steel, and they are water and dust resistant. But best not to submerge them in liquid as they only have an IP67 water-resistance rating. You certainly don’t want to go swimming with them.
Each AirTag is fitted with Apple’s ultra-wideband U1 locator chip that was first implemented in the iPhone 11. They communicate via iCloud and work with greater accuracy than Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi.
On top of each AirTag is a removable cover. This is where the replaceable CR2032 battery resides. Apple says you only need to switch the battery once each year.
Setup is simple. All you need to do is bring AirTag close to iPhone and it will automatically establish a connection. Then its a matter of assigning a name to the AirTag so you know what you are using it for.
How to locate lost items
Once added the AirTag will appear in the Items tab of the Find My app. Here you can view the item location in real-time.
Devices can be made to play a sound thanks to a built-in speaker. This functionality is available if the item is within Bluetooth range. The other option is to ask Siri to ask AirTags to play a sound.
Devices can also be put in “lost mode”. You will then be guided by a combination of sound, haptics, and visual feedback to the item. As you move, the combination of the ARKit, accelerometer, and gyroscope will guide you to the item.
In this mode the Ultra Wideband technology kicks in. Apple refers to this as Precision Finding (available for iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 users).
But what happens if you are not in the vicinity of the lost item? If it’s outside the Bluetooth range of your phone. Then some magic kicks in.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
The AirTag is able to piggyback on any smartphone in its vicinity via a Bluetooth connection and send its location to the rightful owner. The company is obviously taking advantage of the enormous ecosystem of Apple products to form a sort of a crowd-like network. Contact location saved in the tag is accessible to any Apple device through the Find My Network.
The software allows users to add locations that should be ignored. That way they can leave items where they are safe without being bothered by unnecessary alerts. What’s more they are able to share Apple Tag’s location with family and friends.
AirTags can be purchased in one and four packs. The first costs $29 the second $99. Availability starts Friday, April 30th, although you will be able to pre-order a week earlier.
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