Apple AirTag Evaluate: The Greatest Tracker That Can Use Billions of Good Units

“AirTags are a great way to keep track of your belongings as they leverage the vast ecosystem of Find My products developed by Apple.”

  • Very easy to use

  • Uses a huge ecosystem

  • Replaceable battery

  • Precision tracking works great

  • Accessories are expensive

  • Some privacy concerns

Apple’s Find My app has long been a great way to keep track of your iPhone, Mac, or iPad. But what about your non-smart items? After years of rumors and leaks, AirTags are finally here to help you keep track of everything else you want to attach them to and bring everyday non-smart items to the connected world.

AirTags use some fancy technologies to beat the competition in ways that only Apple can match. That said, Apple’s Find My network is now available on every iPhone. This means that you can be informed of the location of your items in near real time, provided they are in a relatively well-populated area.

AirTags have a lot to offer. At first glance, they don’t look overly expensive and are great to incorporate into Apple’s walled garden. They’re not perfect, but if you’re a hardcore Apple user they get pretty close.

Design and furnishings

AirTags are small and portable, making them very easy to keep on a keychain or in a purse or wallet. In terms of base size, AirTags are 1.25 inches wide and 0.31 inches thick.

Of course, most of the time this won’t be their actual size. This is because AirTags do not have a hole for a key fob. So if you want to keep an AirTag on your keys (or anything other than a sealed pouch), you’ll need to purchase an accessory to hold the AirTag. Yes, accessories for your accessories.

It’s a little frustrating that the key fob hole is missing. Sliding an AirTag onto a set of keys is perhaps the most obvious use for them, and while Apple wants to push AirTag accessories, it seems like a pretty basic feature that needs to be ignored.

AirTags look pretty good. They have white plastic on top and a silver back with the Apple logo. That back is perhaps surprisingly removable, and underneath is a coin-cell battery that you can replace yourself. It’s a bit of an un-Apple step, but a very welcome one, though you don’t have to remove the back more than once a year or so. And it’s better than many other similar trackers that don’t have a removable battery.

Apple’s own AirTag holders are very nice, of course – although they are a bit expensive. I’ve used the AirTag leather keyring most of the time, the simplest offering that is $ 35. That’s right, it’s more than the $ 29 AirTag itself. Most people will go the more rational route – I found a pack of four similar holders on Amazon for $ 25. While I can’t speak to the quality of these, let’s face it, they’re probably fine. Apple accessories are of course of very high quality – you just have to pay a lot for them.

As you’d expect from an Apple product, setting up an AirTag is easy. In this case, of course, you will need an iPhone with iOS 14.5 or higher. Simply unpack the device, pull out the plastic battery label, and place the device next to your iPhone. It should appear like a new pair of AirPods. Then you can connect it to your Apple ID, name it and give it a small symbol. Once you’ve set it up, you’ll be able to see it along with everything else in the new Items tab of the My Search app.

Features and performance

As mentioned earlier, AirTags work on the Apple Find My network. This means that they can communicate with other Apple devices, even those that do not belong to you, to let you know where they are. When an iPhone is within Bluetooth range of your AirTag, its location is updated and you can see exactly where it is – without the owner of that accidentally passing iPhone ever knowing. It’s an incredible way to take advantage of the number of iPhones in the world and an example of why AirTags work so well.

Competitors like Tile offer similar features – but will never be as effective. Tile trackers can communicate with any phone that has the Tile app installed. That’s a far fewer number of people than those who have iPhones simply activated with Bluetooth.

If an iPhone is within Bluetooth range of your AirTag, its location will be updated and you can see exactly where it is.

If you lose an item with an AirTag, the Find My app has a number of features that you can use to quickly retrieve it. For starters, you can see the last known location of an item on a map. If you are in a populated area it is likely that the location will be nearly accurate. Once you’re within 30 feet of the item, you’re in Bluetooth range – and that’s where precise tracking comes in. Precision tracking uses the U1 chip in your iPhone and AirTag to get an accurate location, and I’ve found it to be accurate to within inches. With this feature, you will see instructions on your iPhone as to where your item should be.

If you still can’t find it or you know you are nearby, you can set off a tone from your AirTag to help you find it. The alarm will be relatively loud, especially given the size of the device. All of the tools work relatively well together, making it easy for you to find your lost item.

AirTags also have a special “lost mode”. If you lose an AirTag, you can turn on lost mode in the Find My app. You will then receive a notification if it is found by another device on the Find My network. There is an NFC chip in AirTags. If an AirTag is in Lost Mode, another iPhone user can tap an AirTag to find your contact information when you enable this feature.

Privacy concerns

Of course, there are some privacy concerns about AirTags – as with anything designed to be “tracked”. However, Apple added some features to prevent problems from occurring. The first privacy concern is that someone could slip an AirTag into someone else’s purse or pocket without them knowing where it is. To get around this, you will get a notification on your phone when your iPhone detects that an AirTag is on the way with you and the owner is not also with you. If after a while you still can’t find the AirTag, it starts chirping, which is also useful for those who have an Android device.

Unfortunately, these features may not work as quickly as they should. The notification will take a few hours to appear and the sound may not turn on for three days. In other words, someone could still use an AirTag to track someone else’s location without them knowing if they are an iPhone user for at least a few hours or a few days if they don’t have an iPhone.

Fortunately, your own location is no problem for AirTags. AirTags do not store location information locally – instead, this information is stored encrypted in the cloud. AirTags should be near the bottom of the list of anyone concerned about tracking, as the phone you take with you wherever you go is far better suited for this.

Our opinion

Apple AirTags are a great way to keep an eye on your belongings. They use the huge ecosystem of Find My products developed by Apple and can be seamlessly integrated into your iPhone.

At $ 29, the actual AirTag is also relatively cheap. However, if you want to use it for your keys or attach it to something else instead of tucking it in a secure pouch, you need to consider the cost of accessories. That can really add up when you buy multiple AirTags.

Are there any better alternatives?

If you are an iPhone user, there are no better alternatives. Apple has enabled third-party support for the Find My network, so better alternatives may eventually be released. However, Apple users who are prone to losing their keys or other items should stick to AirTags for the time being.

Of course, unless you care too much about staying in the Apple ecosystem, there are other options too. Among the most important is Tile’s wide range of products, which include credit card size trackers, trackers with a hole to attach to your keychain, and so on. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, Tile’s trackers can’t network half of US smartphone users like AirTags, but they’re a great option for basic tracking.

AirTags and Tile-Tracker are similar in price. You can get a pack of four AirTags for $ 100. That’s the same price as a 4-pack of Tile Pro trackers. While Tile Pro trackers offer a keychain hole, they don’t have the same integration as the devices Apple designed themselves.

How long it will take?

AirTags should last for years. They have a removable battery that can be charged for a year and they are IP67 rated so they should withstand rain, odd drops in the sink, etc. Do not get them wet on purpose, but if they get wet they should survive.

That doesn’t mean AirTags won’t get scratched. If you leave them on your keys over time, they will definitely get some scratches – but should still work just fine.

Should you buy it?

Yes. AirTags are the best trackers for iPhone users right now.

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