Although not the first product of its kind, the Apple AirTag tracker has shown its value to iPhone users who frequently misplace their wallets, keys, and other items. However, an AirTag can only be associated with an iPad running iPadOS 14.5 or later, or an iPhone 11 or later (including the most current iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro smartphones).
This clever device may be tucked inside or fastened to another item, and it can then use a few features to assist you locate both lost things, whether they are in your immediate area or farther away.
The first is a simple but effective emitter that makes an audible beep to assist you locate your AirTag by listening for its call. Leverage the iPhone connected to the Apple AirTag to use its Bluetooth and ultra-wideband signal if you like something a little more precise. Your smartphone may use this signal, along with its accelerometer, camera, and gyroscope, while in close proximity to the tag, to provide you with onscreen directions to your misplaced item.
If your AirTag is outside of your house and is further away, it won’t be a problem because you can use Apple’s Find My network to find it.
You can use your iPhone to turn on Lost Mode on the AirTag, which will cause all iPhones connected to the Find My network to secretly search for your lost item. It’s crucial to note that the person passing by won’t be informed that they are close to the tracker when one of these devices comes within range of your AirTag. Instead, you will receive an anonymous update on the location of the device.
Not to mention, if you choose to enable this function, anyone who finds the Apple AirTag the conventional way can use any NFC-capable device (whether it is an Apple product or not) to find out your basic contact details and return it to you.
You’ll be relieved to learn that Apple has given privacy precautions a lot of care, especially when it comes to making sure the AirTags can’t be used inappropriately given the tracker’s nature. An AirTag cannot be activated on behalf of another person, and your iPhone, iPad, or other iOS devices will notify you of any unknown AirTags you are carrying if they are detected. If an AirTag is separated from its owner for a long time but continues to move location, it will automatically draw attention to itself by playing a sound, even if you don’t own an Apple device. Additionally, if you have an Android phone, you can use Apple’s Tracker Detect app (opens in new tab) to manually scan for AirTags if you believe you are being tracked.
Nevertheless, the present systems are not flawless. Many Android users, in particular, are dissatisfied with the Tracker Detect software’s inability to run in the background automatically since, unless you remember to check yourself on a regular basis, you can still be followed without realising it.
Additionally, although while the disc-shaped tracker can be easily tucked away in a wallet or backpack, it’s a little inconvenient that you need to buy extra accessories to track objects like your keys. especially considering that Apple’s item tracker isn’t the cheapest product available.
The AirTag is extremely small, measuring 1.26 x 1.26 x 0.31 inches (3.19 x 3.19 x 0.8cm) and weighing just 0.4oz (11g). It is around the size of a quarter or a £2 coin. The stainless steel disc features a built-in speaker that will play a sound if the Find My app on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac is used to locate it. It also has a removable plastic cover that secures the CR2032 battery that powers the AirTag.
The AirTag doesn’t come with a clip or tag by default, but it can be tucked inside a bag, wallet, or coat pocket. You may buy optional leather and silicone key fobs and loops from Apple or other companies like Belkin to attach it to your keys or other items.
The AirTag is eligible for Apple’s free engraving service, so you can add text, numbers, and emojis to the smooth plastic cover to make it easier to distinguish which AirTag is which if you have several of them. The AirTag has an IP67 rating, so it will survive an accidental dunk in a deep puddle or the bath. However, we discovered that after only a few days of use, both sides of the AirTag have gotten scratched up.
Apple hasn’t specified the AirTags’ Bluetooth range, but since Bluetooth 5.0—the newest version of the technology—is already included in the iPhone 12 and has a range of 800 feet/240 metres, we assume that AirTags are compatible with it.
Similar to most iPhone accessories, setting up the AirTag was incredibly straightforward. The AirTag gave off a little beep as we opened the container, and our iPhone recognised it right away. The AirTag could be given a name, and after it was associated with our Apple ID, it appeared in the Items tab. We could easily attach the AirTag to our keys and a purse strap by slipping it through the leather key fob and loop accessories.
In the Find My app, tapping the AirTag from the list of objects displays numerous options, one of which is Play Sound. We discovered that it took a short while for Find My to establish a connection with the AirTag and begin emitting three cycles of five electronic beeps, which measured 64db on our sound metre and were loud enough for us to hear from beneath the pile of pillows where we had hidden it on the sofa.
The brief seven-second cycle of electronic beeps is sufficient to find something in the same room or the one next to it, but it was insufficient when we were upstairs and our ‘lost’ item was below. In this case, it took us four taps of the Play Sound button before we could get close enough to the AirTag to hear it.
The Precision Finding tool can be useful in this situation. To help you find the AirTag, this uses Ultra Wideband radio technology to determine how far and in which direction your iPhone is from it. It then displays this information on-screen and through haptic feedback.
Overall, we discovered that the directions and the on-screen distance, which is shown in feet or metres, did make it easier to locate our (intentionally hidden) AirTag. However, given that our tests were carried out in a house with cavity walls, which frequently has an impact on the dependability of Bluetooth connections between gadgets like headphones and smartphones, we discovered that this also applied to the Precision Finding feature.
For instance, our iPhone 12 originally failed to establish a connection with the AirTag and prompted us to transfer to a different place when we left the AirTag in the garden and moved inside. It was able to connect to the AirTag when we got closer, but the signal was poor. When it was 21 feet (6 metres) away from the AirTag, it finally made a connection.
Our iPhone connected to the AirTag almost immediately and was able to direct us to it without losing service when we set the AirTag in our front garden and strolled across the street until we were 30 feet (9 metres) away.
As we’ve already mentioned, Apple’s Find My device network can help locate your Key Finder if you’re outside of the AirTag’s Bluetooth range. We discovered that it took just 30 minutes for a passing iPhone to update us on the location of the AirTag after we left it in a busy town centre and went back home, making it appear to be lost.
The loop of brief electronic beeps began when we asked Siri to find an AirTag, but in order to use Precision Finding, Siri instructed us to launch the Find My app.