The Apple AirTag locator is to be a solution to the problem of lost things. This small device with great possibilities has a chance to make Apple a leader in this electronics segment. Is it worth buying an AirTag? We have collected all the arguments for and against.
What is Apple AirTag?
Although AirTag is not the first product in its segment, it undoubtedly caused a buzz that only the Cupertino-based products can cause. The Apple AirTag locator is another product that extends the ecosystem of this company’s devices. With it, you can locate lost things.
The Apple AirTag is a small circular device made of metal surrounded by a plastic cap. According to the manufacturer’s assurances, this material is durable, which will allow it to endure the hardships of everyday use.
The diameter of the AirTag locator is 3.2 cm. Its thickness is 6 mm and weight – 11 g. In terms of dimensions, it is a device slightly larger than a coin. Still, it’s still small enough to fit in your wallet.
A wallet is not the only place where you can keep Apple’s AirTag. It is entirely up to the user what it will be inserted or pinned to. It can also be used as a backpack or purse locator, keychain or laptop bag locator.
How does AirTag work?
To answer this question, you need to look at the technical specifications and AirTag capabilities. How does this locator work? First of all, only with other Apple hardware. You can pair this locator with an iPhone or iPad. It should be running iOS 14.5 or later.
AirTag uses two wireless communication modules – Bluetooth and NFC. The first one is used to determine the location of the locator and the object in which it is hidden or attached. The second task is to identify the AirTag.
The Bluetooth module used by Apple’s AirTag is the same technology used to pair AirPods and Apple Watch. A common drawback of Bluetooth is the high consumption of battery power of the smartphone or tablet in which it is turned on. To overcome this problem, AirTag uses Bluetooth Low Energy, which is a more economical communication protocol.
Pairing the AirTag with your iPhone or iPad is very easy. First remove the battery separator. It is a small piece of foil placed underneath it. Its task is to protect the cell against discharging when the device is stored in the warehouse. Then turn on Bluetooth on your iPhone or iPad and put it next to the AirTag. The locator will be detected automatically.
The next step is to go through a short configuration process. In it you choose what type of item will be attached to the AirTag. It is also required to associate the locator with the iCloud account. The place where the item assigned to him is located, e.g. a wallet, can now be checked in the Locator application on the iPhone or iPad.
The manufacturer does not provide data on the Bluetooth range of the locator. Its range shortens with the number of obstacles the signal receives on the way from one device to another. Under typical environmental conditions, it will hit trees, walls, entire buildings and other barriers. The range is probably up to several meters.
Such a distance is completely sufficient when it becomes necessary to find something lost at home. In the Locator, just select the Find. The location of the lost item can then be tracked on the map. Information about the distance from the lost item is also available. The AirTag can also trigger a sound signal using the built-in speaker. To do this, just select Play sound.
The owners of iPhone 11, 12 and 13 series can additionally increase the accuracy of the location. In these generations of Apple smartphones, the U1 chip uses the Ultra WideBand (UWB) radio transmission protocol, allowing for even more precise determination of the distance between devices.
But what if the thing is left much further than the Bluetooth range allows? In a situation where the owner forgets, for example, to take a bag with a laptop and AirTag in a cafe, other iPhone and iPad users can help. The locator communicates with other Apple devices. The location data is then sent to iCloud, which allows you to find the item on the map in the Locator.
After enabling the Lost Mode , it is possible to contact the person who found the item with the AirTag. For this purpose, the Apple Pay contactless payment module, i.e. NFC. Bringing it close to the AirTag results in sending information about the finding to the owner’s device. In the Locator, you can additionally enter your data (e.g. telephone number), thanks to which the finder can contact the person who lost the item.
AirTag power cell
When reading about electronic devices, you usually hear about batteries that require regular, frequent charging. This is common especially in the case of equipment created by companies producing mobile devices. In the case of AirTag, however, it is different.
The Apple Locator uses a CR2032 type battery. It is a flat link that is used, inter alia, in mechanical watches. It allows AirTag to operate for one year. Moreover, they can be replaced. To access it, just unscrew the cover of the device.
Pros and Cons of AirTag
AirTag is a useful extension of Apple’s ecosystem of devices and services. Ingenious solutions make it an effective remedy for the problem of lost things. However, this is only the first generation of Apple locators. As a result, some shortcomings are visible, which will probably be corrected in the next installments of AirTags.
The biggest advantage of the locator is the well-thought-out integration with iOS. First of all, it is worth paying attention to the possibility of connecting AirTag with other people’s Apple devices. This makes it useful not only for looking for items lost at home, but also for locating those left far beyond the reach of the iPhone or iPad of the owner of the lost item.
Great solution is also the use of the NFC module. Although the AirTag itself is compatible only with Apple smartphones and tablets, the contact details provided by the owner of the lost item can also be found by a person with an Android smartphone. In the event of the loss of an item, it significantly expands the database of people who, after finding it, can contact the owner.
Apple is also worth praising for the use of a battery such as in watches. This removes the need for frequent recharging of the locator from the AirTag user. Long operation of the cell allows you to be much more confident that the locator will work when it is needed.
The problem of the locator is the average effectiveness of detecting someone else’s AirTags. To prevent tracking by other people, the assumption is that the iPhone or iPad should notify about the presence of someone else’s locator, and then guide the person being followed through the procedure of disabling the undesirable AirTag.
In practice, this function works differently. Users and reviewers report situations where the foreign locator is not detected at all. It remains to be hoped that when designing the next generation of AirTags, Apple will put emphasis on improving user safety.
The third disadvantage is no longer related to technological solutions and the manufacturer’s policy. It is the price of additional accessories. The prices of AirTag cases fluctuate, with one exception, in the range of $20-40. Considering that these are ordinary, indistinct covers, such costs are too high. Fortunately, you can buy cheaper alternatives from other companies.
The price of the Apple AirTag
It is worth supplementing the raised issue of costs with the exact amounts of both locators and accessories. In the first case, it is important to be able to buy more AirTags cheaper, and it is worth paying attention to the variety of the offer.
One AirTag costs $29. You can also buy four at once on the Apple website, and their cost is $99. This means that the cost of a single locator is then about $25.
The prices of accessories are between $12,95 and $39. The cheapest is the Belkin Secure Holder, which costs just $12,95 for a version with a strap or a key ring. Other covers are sold for $29 (polyurethane), $35 (leather with a wheel) and $39 (leather with a clasp).
When will the Apple locator launch?
AirTag can be purchased since April 2021. Where to buy this device? Thanks to the wide distribution, it is available not only on the Apple website – the locator is also sold by most stores selling electronic devices.
A few months after the premiere, this equipment became safer for the user. One of the updates changed the time after which the AirTag beeps when it is away from the owner. It is no longer 3 days, but a random moment in the range of 8 to 24 hours.
As a result, the possibility of finding someone else’s locator that could be used for tracking was accelerated. An Android application is also under preparation to help find the lost AirTag for smartphone users other than iPhones.
The Apple AirTag locator is a product that makes finding lost things easier. Simple but thoughtful solutions allow you to find a lost item with the help of thousands of Apple users. However, the debatable approach to safety so far casts a shadow on the idea of the existence of such locators. It remains to be hoped that this problem can be eliminated, thanks to which customers will gain not only useful but safe devices.