Apple made international headlines earlier in 2021 when they finally introduced their AirTags item trackers to the world.
They’d been rumored for several years, but the company’s answer to Tile and similar trackers was finally ready for prime-time.
As is a running theme with Apple products, the AirTags have a heavy emphasis on privacy. Which means that while they’re great for tracking something like your keys or your wallet, they are specifically not intended to track your kids or your pets – a move that has people buzzing in more ways than one.
The Functionality of AirTags: Breaking Things Down
In a recent interview, Apple’s Vice President of Worldwide iPhone Product Marketing Kaiann Drance said that the AirTags were a product that “no one else in the industry has ever done before.” This is because even though the AirTags allow you to track certain items effortlessly using your iPhone, they’re still designed with maximum privacy in mind.
Any AirTag will use a network that is end-to-end encrypted, meaning that essentially the only two devices that can read location information are the AirTags themselves and the iPhone that they are connected to.
Third party apps or devices, for example, can’t read this location information on their own.
This means that even if someone else happens to find your AirTag, they wouldn’t be able to pair it with their own iPhone to continue to use it. It would essentially be worthless at that point.
But so long as you’ve properly set up your own AirTag, you can always use the “Find My” app on your iPhone to get its precise location.
Not only that, but even if your AirTag is out of the range of a wireless network, it can still privately communicate with any other iPhone that happens to be in the area to broadcast its exact location. However, that iPhone itself won’t necessarily be able to read the location of the AirTag.
This, of course, has led to Apple making it clear that AirTags are only for finding lost personal items – not kids or pets. Still, it’s a small price to pay for innovation.
AirTags aren’t really designed to track items that are going to move around at random. Since it does not include any GPS chips, cellular, or even Wi-Fi capabilities within the tracker, it needs to be within the range of an iPhone or other Apple device that has the Find My network enabled so its location can be tracked.
Apple has indicated that if you do want to use a product to track your kids while they’re not around, something like an Apple Watch or an iPhone with Family Setup would definitely be a better option.
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