Technophile

Apple AirTag: When losing and finding things become so much fun

Kishore Bhargava | Updated on July 29, 2021

Object tracking is easy with this accessory

Are you the kind of person who easily misplaces stuff? If you spend hours looking for the house keys or the car keys, the technology answer for you is an item tracker. Guess what? Apple just introduced one recently, and it works really well. As all things Apple, it has a simple and slick design and is easy to setup and use.

The AirTag is small little puck, plastic on one side and stainless steel on the other. The steel side is removable and reveals a replaceable battery, a regular CR-2032. The plastic side of the puck also doubles up as the speaker and for something so small it does get surprisingly loud. The tag itself uses Bluetooth low-energy and the U1 ultra wideband chip also found in the newest iPhones. Under normal circumstances the battery should last you at least one year.

 

Setting up

In concept, the working of the AirTag is very simple. Once you unbox and remove the plastic wrapping and bring it close to your iPhone, it is recognised and displays a nice animation. The next step is to associate it with your Apple ID. After that, all you need to do is name it and you are good to go. You are now ready to track your keys, backpack, pets, kids or whatever you are in the habit of losing.

With the setup now complete, you track the tag using the Find My app on your phone, iPad or MacBook. Tags show up under the Items tab in the app. When you mark the device as lost, the entire Find My network comes into play and helps you locate your tag. While others can help locate the AirTag the privacy features do not disclose the location to anyone other than the owner. Apple has implemented the privacy with great care and nothing is stored on the AirTag itself. All communications between the tag and the network are end-to-end encrypted. A lost tag can even be located by Android phone with NFC, it can read the contact information on the tag which you can customise and set. With over a billion iPhones in use, locating an AirTag via the Find My network doesn’t take a very long time. At the most, every 5-10 minutes you would start receiving a ping from the tag as to it’s whereabouts. A YouTuber actually tried to send one to North Korea and was able to track it quite accurately. Of course, it never went anywhere near North Korea but it was a fun activity to watch.

Apple is probably the only company that can get away with making accessories for an accessory. The AirTag design is very much like a large button with no place for a hole or a clip or for any method of attaching a lanyard or string. Apple has a great range of accessories from leather keychains to silicon straps and of course the third-party accessories are also now available including the hugely expensive Hermes leather keychain.

The AirTag is sold in India for ₹3,190 for a single tag, or ₹10,900 for a pack of four. The price does include free engraving on the plastic side but does not include any accessories. The product RED leather keychain was just a trifle more expensive than the tag itself. But then the proceeds do go towards charity so it is money well spent. If you lose your tagged item within your household, you can start tracking it either by telling it to play a sound or walking around the house with your phone and looking at the map in the Find My app. Once it is within range, you can also use precision location which requires an iPhone with the U1 chip as well and it is interesting to see that the app will prompt you in the direction of the AirTag very accurately. The AirTag suffers from separation pangs: when you leave an item or AirTag behind, you will immediately get a notification when you are out of rangeof the device. Very useful if you leave your backpack behind at the restaurant where you had lunch and need to rush back to pick it up before someone else does. While there is completion for the AirTag in the form of Tiles from Samsung, Apple’s implementation is quite slick. Tiles and AirTags both work quite well, so if you often misplace items, now is the time to get an item tracker.

Published on July 28, 2021

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