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Home / Tips and Tricks / AirTags Explained: Everything You Need to Know Before Buying One of Apple’s New Trackers

AirTags Explained: Everything You Need to Know Before Buying One of Apple’s New Trackers



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The AirTag is designed to make keeping track of your items easy.

Patrick Holland / CNET

This story is part of Apple event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

The new AirTag tracking tiles that Apple unveiled last week arrive as the iPhone maker is showing a growing interest in helping you track items outside of its Apple devices. Apple began allowing the Find My app to locate lost items from third-party companies this month.

Rumors of a Tile competitor from Apple date back to 2019, and the pieces started to fall into place for Apple viewers after AirTag technology was suggested in the iOS 13 code and when the iPhone 11 appeared to have included ultra-wideband or UWB technology. The basis for the gadget was laid even further back in 2014 with the iBeacon, a small, inexpensive Bluetooth transmitter that aimed to provide location-based information and services to iPhones. While Bluetooth can track items to within five feet, UWB can locate them to within 5 to 10 inches.

Now that the Apple tracking tag has arrived, here’s everything you need to know about the AirTag, including how it works, can you accessorize and how to buy AirTags.

Read more: AirTags vs. Tile vs. Samsung SmartTag: This is how Apple stacks up against the competition






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What is an AirTag?

The AirTag works in the same way as the Tile tag, in that you can click one of the small devices on keys, a bag or whatever using a separate key fob. The tag can also be used without a key ring and slid into a wallet or purse. The AirTag can be linked to items such as your iPhone, and it works with the Find my app. (This is how AirTags compare to Tile trackers.)

The AirTag is a small, lightweight stainless steel disc with the Apple logo on one side. You can personalize the other side with a free engraving. The new device is also water and dust resistant, with a removable cover designed to make it easy to replace the CR2032 battery, which promises a year of battery life with daily use.

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With one of the AirTag key rings you can easily attach your tag to bags, keys and more.

Patrick Holland / CNET

How much do AirTags cost and when can I get one?

If you’d like to order an AirTag, preorders open April 23 – here you can book AirTags. General sales of the tags will begin on April 30th. The new technical costs $ 29 per day, or $ 99 for a pack of four (£ 29 or £ 99 in the UK and AU $ 45 or AU $ 149 in Australia). And while it’s not mandatory, you can attach AirTags to your items more easily with the keychain accessory, also from Hermès. This is what Apple offers:

  • AirTag Leather Keychain for $ 35 in Baltic Blue, Saddle Brown, Product Red.
  • AirTag leather loop for $ 39 in saddle brown and product red.
  • AirTag Polyurethane Loop for $ 29 in Electric Orange, Sunflower, Deep Navy, and White.
  • Belkin Secure Holder with Strap for $ 13 in White, Black, Blue and Pink.
  • Belkin Secure Holder with key ring for $ 13 in white, black, blue and pink.

In addition, Apple and Hermès have created AirTag Hermès, featuring a range of handmade leather purse charms, key rings, and travel and luggage tags:

  • AirTag Hermès Keychain from $ 349 in Orange, Indigo Blue and Fawn.
  • AirTag Hermès bag hanger from $ 299 in orange, indigo blue and fawn.
  • AirTag Hermès Luggage Charm from $ 449 in fawn.
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Keychain with an AirTag to attach to your items.

Patrick Holland / CNET

How does the AirTag work?

After you set up the AirTag (here’s how), a process that Apple says works the same as pairing AirPods, it will appear in the New Items tab of the Find My app. You can also name your items, with suggestions from the app or your own names.

From there, you can see the item’s last known location if you have an AirTag associated with it. If the item is within Bluetooth range, you can use the Find My app to signal the AirTag’s built-in speaker to play a sound. AirTags also have Siri support, so your iOS assistant can help you find the lost item.

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With the Find My app you can link your AirTags and name all items you have connected.

Patrick Holland / CNET

The tags and Find My app use Apple’s U1 chip with Ultra Wideband technology to use Precision Finding, a feature that relies on camera input, ARKit, accelerometer and gyroscope to provide you with sound and haptic and visual feedback to your AirTag. With the Find My app you get useful notes, such as how many meters away your AirTag is and in which direction. Precision Finding also has a voice over option to assist visually impaired or blind users.

If you are out of Bluetooth range, you can put your AirTag into Lost mode and be notified when it is within range of the Find My network. If someone else finds your AirTag, they can use an iPhone or NFC compatible device (even an Android phone) to see your contact number, if you have mentioned it.

Will AirTags keep my information private?

During last week’s AirTag announcement, Apple talked about privacy. The company said people can join the Find My network without having to share their location with anyone, including Apple. Carolyn Wolfman-Estrada, an engineer at Apple, said there are security features that discourage unwanted tracking.

“AirTag is designed to track items, not people,” Wolfman-Estrada said at the Apple Spring event.

AirTags do not store location data or history and the communication history through the Find My app is encrypted end-to-end according to Apple.

What can I have engraved on my AirTag?

Apple engraves one side of your AirTag for free after purchase. When you reach the order screen, you can use the letters of the alphabet, numbers (zero to 50) and one of 31 different emojis. Since the tag is small, you can choose up to four characters to engrave on the back. As you choose your emojis, letters and numbers, you will see a preview of how the tag will look engraved.

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A look at the emoji carvings you can get on your AirTag.

Apple

What do I need to use AirTags?

AirTags needs a device that runs iOS 14.5 or later. Users also need an Apple ID to log in to their iCloud account. Here are the compatible devices:

  • iPhone SE, 6S or later.
  • iPod Touch 7th generation or later.
  • iPad Pro, 5th generation or later.
  • iPad Air 2 or higher.
  • iPad Mini 4.

What accessories are available for AirTags?

esr silicone airtag key ring

ESR’s AirTag silicone key fobs are a cheaper option than the Apple x Hermes collection.

ESR

AirTags don’t attach directly to anything, so you’ll need to find a way to stick the devices to your stuff. Several third-party manufacturers such as Belkin, ESR, Nomad and Hermes are sales of accessories such as key rings, spectacle belts and hard shell mounts where your AirTag fits.

Alison DeNisco Rayome contributed to this report.






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