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Apple AirTag Review: Don't Start Misplacing Your Wallet And Keys, Just For Fun!

Apple AirTag Review: Don't Start Misplacing Your Wallet And Keys, Just For Fun!

The Apple AirTag trackers are incredibly easy to set up, and they stay out of your way. Until the forgetful or distracted you loses something. And then these really cool trackers step up.

It is a horrible feeling to misplace things. That time when your heart skips a beat as you touch the outside of your chinos pocket and realize the car keys aren’t there. Or you cannot find your laptop sleeve as you hopped from one conference room to the other in office. Very irritating. Incredibly time consuming to retrace your steps. And makes you look like a bit of a tool, to be honest. Tile, a company that makes trackers that are designed to help you overcome this exact problem, have been one of the solutions so far. And while Tile may crib all they want, but they simply cannot match what Apple has been able to do with the new AirTag trackers. Any iPhone can report back a lost item, anywhere in the world. And the AirTag experience simply builds from there.

You Need An Apple AirTag, Just Never Realised It Till Now Think of the things you misplace the most, or simply forget where you kept them last. Home keys. Car keys. Wallet. Your laptop sleeve. Backpack. Your handkerchief. Now, how about a tiny tracker that you could tether to these things, and find them when you inevitably misplace them? That’s exactly the dream scenario for the forgetful amongst us, that the Apple AirTag trackers, would attempt to unfold. Whatever it may be, chances are you’ll be able to find an accessory that’ll help you latch, attach, or pin an Apple AirTag tracker to your belongings. You’ll find the tracking data residing in the Find My app on your iPhone. Yet, you shouldn’t be thinking of this as some tracker that simply relies on Bluetooth connectivity with your phone (and that means it’s limited to the theoretical range of the wireless standard), but something that uses a Bluetooth Low Energy radio as well as the U1 ultra-wideband (UWB) chip. That, and it’ll tap into a global mesh that is created by every single Apple iPhone out there, in case you need to find something you’ve misplaced in the vastness of this world.

The Find My Network Is A Global Mesh Hiding In Plain Sight, And It Is Brilliant: Imagine this. You were at a mall, and you did a spot of shopping and then went to have dinner. As you are about to pay the bill, you realize that your wallet is missing. A big oops moment. You may pay with your phone and get out of that situation, but where is your wallet. With an Apple AirTag tracker inside it, you’ll be able to track it on the Find My app on your phone. No matter how far it may be from your and your iPhone’s physical proximity. What the tracker will essentially do is connect with any Apple iPhone or Mac that comes in range and pull in the location data and update that on the Find My app. Basically any Apple device that has Find My enabled. Every phone your currently lost Apple AirTag tracker can connect to in a serial order, you’ll get newer location data as you follow the directions in the app. It is all very intuitive, and extremely impressive how Apple has seamlessly created and then implemented a mesh of devices on the Find My network, to basically talk to each other without any user input needed. You can even mark an Apple AirTag tracker as lost on your Find My app and anyone who finds it with your misplaced belongings, can tap it via NFC to see your see whatever information you’d have put in place about how to be contacted. This will work with iPhones and Android phones.

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But What About My Privacy? Apple is undoubtedly using a massive and ever-growing network of devices to create an unseen mesh that can communicate within itself and help each other out when needed. Even if it is a momentary connectivity, that’s enough to pull in the necessary location data that’s needed to help you retrace and retrieve. First and foremost, Apple says that every AirTag’s Bluetooth identifier is randomized at short intervals. Also, even if there is a situation where the Apple AirTag trackers need to take help from the mesh of Apple devices to help your find your way to it, no personally identifiable information is shared with any device connected with, even if momentarily. Secondly, any iPhones or iPads or Macs that connect with the Apple AirTag at any point, remain completely anonymous and encrypted. Apple also says that all the location data for an AirTag is never saved on the tracker, while the relay of location data to your Find My app from the tracker is also encrypted.

Don’t Get Evil Ideas, Your Secretly Placed AirTag Will Be Revealed Soon Enough: If you think secretly placing a tiny AirTag tracker will allow you to track someone else’s movements, you’d be wrong. If there is an unconnected AirTag in your proximity and your iPhone can detect it, you’ll be notified with an “AirTag Detected Near You” alert. If you still are unable to locate it for a few minutes, the tracker will use the integrated speaker to play a warning sound to help you locate it. The only thing is, it’ll be able to do all this on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running iOS 14.5 or iPadOS 14.5 or later versions. I haven’t been able to test this feature with someone who only uses an Android phone.

Why Does It Sit There And Look Like Something You Can Eat? Apple has got the design pretty much spot on. Each Apple AirTag tracker is compact. It is built well. Stays out of the way, even inside wallets. And the white finish looks good. Looks like a piece of chocolate sitting there. Yet, it is hard to ignore that the entire tracker has the sort of dual finish which catches scuffs and scratches very easily. If you aren’t careful, the white plastic will start showing dings very easily. And the underside, which seems to be a chrome finish very similar to the one I struggled with while using an iPod Nano many years ago, will catch scuffs no matter what you do. Best is to also get one of the accessories so that you can at least keep the tracker protected to a certain extent—the AirTag Leather Key Ring and the AirTag Loop are two options. The positive side of this design, the CR2032 cells are user replaceable, and something you’ll be able to order online or buy from a store nearby—Apple does say that each of these batteries should last about a year in an AirTag. I obviously haven’t reached the low battery stage with the AirTag, and therefore can’t really say how much of a window you get from the first alert to the tracker draining out completely.

Would You Like An Emoji On Your AirTag? The Apple India Online Store has the option to personalize your AirTag with engravings, and this will be a free add-on for all AirTag purchases. You can use text, emojis and numbers, or a mix of them. Maybe distinguish each one that you intend to use with an emoji of the gadget or belonging it’ll be tagged with? Or initials to keep your separate from family members? It is just a neat option to have, considering this isn’t something you’ll be able to get done later. And even if it is not that, something cool engraved on the AirTag simply enhances its visual appeal.

The Last Word: Never Thought A Tracker Could Be This Cool And Consistent

The Apple AirTag is priced at Rs 3,190 for a single tracker and a pack of 4 trackers costs Rs 10,900. The practicality and utility is unmatched and will continue to be that way for a long time, purely because Apple has the massive unseen mesh of devices roaming the Earth. Unmatched too, till someone can rival that scale. Maybe Google can, but would it? The AirTag simply works, in true Apple form. You don’t need to get through realms of setup, and the tracker will pretty much tell you to sit up and take notice, when you need to sit up and take notice. Apple isn’t opening this up for any third-party data access, and everything in the mesh and chain is encrypted and anonymized. There are folks who relentlessly crib about how Apple creates an ecosystem you cannot exit. There’s a very good reason people don’t want to exit. Because everything just works.

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first published:July 07, 2021, 10:52 IST