After years of speculation, it finally happened – Apple announced their AirTag Item Trackers to the world.
These were rumored to make their debut a few years ago, but then all of a sudden… nothing.
They’ve officially arrived, and they’re everything we thought they could be. For just $29, you get a coin-sized stainless steel tracker that you can use to find everything from your keys to your backpack and more.
If your item gets lost, all you have to do is use the built-in “Find My” app on your phone and you’re seconds away from getting it back again.
If all of this sounds a lot like the Tile item tracking system, well… that’s because it is. But Apple, as is often true, has one major ace up their sleeve that their competitors will never be able to match:
The one billion iPhones that are already out in the world.
The Beauty of the AirTags
One of the most important things to understand about the AirTags is that they don’t actually have a GPS signal of any kind. If they had, it would cause the battery to drain down significantly – thus leaving you with something you couldn’t really use.
Likewise, this would also raise a lot of privacy questions that Apple certainly wants to avoid.
So, what happens if you lose an item with an AirTag and that item goes out of the range of your iPhone? What happens if it goes out of the range of a Wi-Fi network or similar connection of that nature?
That’s the beauty of it: it leverages other people’s Apple devices to your advantage.
Any iOS, iPadOS or macOS device can essentially act as a “finder device.” This means they’ll be constantly listening for AirTags as their owners go about their day. The device just has to have “Offline Finding” enabled in the “Find My” app.
So if your item with an AirTag attached to it goes missing, but it happens to wander by one of these “finder devices,” you’ll still be able to use the “Find My” app to locate it!
Of course, this particular feature isn’t going to be enabled by default out of privacy concerns – so it may take awhile to ramp up to full effectiveness. But rest easy knowing that participating doesn’t share your personal information with the AirTag or its owner in any way, shape or form.
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