Apple have finally launched their much rumoured wireless tracker. At £29 it’s one of the cheapest pieces of tech from the team at Cupertino but should you buy one?
Simple answer? – Yes, but only if you own an iPhone.
Like many things from Apple, the benefit of the AirTag is reserved for people within their ecosystem. It utilises technology in the latest iPhones as well as Apple’s FindMy network to accurately track items, keys and pretty much anything you can attach one too (not people though – more on that later). The Find My network means that anyone with an iPhone or iPad that is near to the lost AirTag will update the system with it’s location. This is done in the background and with no risk to anyone’s security or personal data. It means that even if you aren’t close to the item, other people with Apple products will help you find your lost item without even knowing it. If you are close, the U1 chip in the iPhone allows inch perfect tracking of the item so you can play a game of ‘hotter/colder’ with your lost belongings.
I’ve been using a single AirTag for the last two weeks and it quickly became a no-brainer for me. Whilst it’s been a long time since I misplaced my house keys, the fear of losing them is ever present. On a busy day, I often find myself checking my pocket to make sure my keys are still there and I’m not locked out of my house. I only bought a single AirTag at £29 but you can get a pack of four for £99 making tracking multiple items cheap and easier. You Can also personalise the AirTag for free with letters of your choice or a selection of emojis.
The AirTag is very much a set-up and forget device. Take it out of the packet, place it near your iPhone and it will automatically pair with the device. You can give it a name and then you are good to go. It’s simple in a way that Apple seems to do best. Once set-up you’ll find your device listed on a separate ‘items’ tab in the Find My app. From there you can see on a map where it is (or the last location the Find My network detected it), play a sound from the AirTag, navigate to it if you are close or put it into lost mode. It’s all very straight forward.
If you select the ‘Find’ option and you’re close by, it’ll display an arrow and accurate distance data allowing you to walk right up to your item. Not that helpful for me as I’m fastidious about where my everyday carry items go when walk in the door, but if you have a more scattergun approach with your things then this will mean you’ll save hours of checking down the back of the sofa when you’re in a hurry.
One thing you can’t do though is track people. Apple have made it so that if an AirTag is consistently close to someone but the owner of said item isn’t around. It’ll start to make a noise and notify them via their phone that they have an item that doesn’t belong to them about their person. So don’t think you can put one on each of your children although I’m sure someone will find a work around.
In conclusion; the AirTag is not a new idea but easily the best implementation of that idea. Apple can leverage their huge user base to help in locating your lost item without sacrificing the privacy of their users. Best of all, it’s affordable and so easy to use. If you have an iPhone, it’d almost be silly not to get one. Just get a decent key chain for it (Apple do not include one and charge more for it that the cost of the AirTag) as mine got scratched on day one.