Location trackers can’t particularly be called ‘new’ gadgets, but Apple’s entry certainly gives the segment a boost of sorts. The company’s tiny poker chip like trackers, called AirTags, have been rumoured literally for years, and they’re designed for one specific purpose — to find things.
The idea is simple, attach an AirTag to anything and your iPhone will be able to locate it, virtually anywhere in the world. It uses Apple’s ‘Find My’ network, a technology that also allows you to find a lost Apple device, to keep track of things. The AirTags are meant to be attached to a key ring, a bag or pretty much anything. It works quite the same way as any other location tracker, including popular ones like the Tile Mate and Tile Pro.
Apple is even selling key-rings and stylish loops, so you can attach an Airtag to another device. You can simply slip an AirTag into your bag or suitcase to keep tracking it. The accessories are meant for those who want to show off their purchase. But Apple’s accessories always have features that tie users specifically into its ecosystem, and the AirTags are no different. They have a feature called ‘Precision Finding’, which uses the accelerometer, camera and gyroscope on an iPhone to provide sort of an indoor GPS to find the AirTags. The Find My app shows the user how far they are from the tracker, and will even show a directional arrow as you get closer to it.
In fact, this is perhaps the first real use-case for ultra-wideband tech that Apple started putting on iPhones a few years ago. The technology is similar to Bluetooth, but offers much better directional capabilities, which is how Apple determines exactly where an AirTag is in your home.
The company also wants to take advantage of the sheer size of Apple’s iPhone network around the world. AirTag users will be able to take advantage of Apple’s entire Find My network if an item is lost. Putting the device in “lost mode” will allow anyone on the Find My network to notify the user, or even call them, if the AirTag is in their vicinity. It significantly enhances the tracking capabilities of the AirTags as compared to any other tracker in competition. The Find My network is based on Apple Maps, which isn’t as useful in India as it is overseas, which may affect the overall tracking capabilities.
The AirTags also have a distinct disadvantage that all other location trackers do as well. The sound it plays when you’re trying to locate it is too low for countries like India, which are generally quite noisy. While it’s easy to locate the sound when you’re at home, it’s not as easy when you’re outdoors, especially when the AirTags are stuffed in your bag.
Another noteworthy element is the price of these devices. Apple is charging ₹3,190 for a single AirTag and upwards of ₹10,000 for a pack of four. That’s a lot of money for something that’s effectively meant to deal with carelessness.