Apple Reveals AirTags for Tracking Personal Items Using Its Find My Network
Apple unveiled AirTag, a small disk that can be used to keep track of personal items. The disk, which runs on a replaceable CR2032 battery, is a glossy white plastic on one side and metal on the other. The device uses Apple’s U1 chip technology combined with the iPhone’s camera, accelerometer, gyroscope, and ARKit to locate missing items.
AirTags can be personalized with free engraving using text and a subset of 31 emoji and are set up like AirPods by bringing the AirTag close to your iPhone. The device doesn’t work with the iPad. The device is IP67 water and dust resistant and includes a speaker for playing a sound to help locate it. During the setup process users can assign names to their tags too.
Once set up, the speaker in the device can be used via the Find My app to play a sound if it’s in Bluetooth range. The Find My app also relies on the iPhone’s camera, accelerometer, gyroscope, haptic feedback, and ARKit to help guide users to their items when they are within range. Siri can also be used to find a misplaced item.
If an item is out of range, users can rely on the Find My network of devices to locate an AirTag. With nearly 1 billion devices able to detect the AirTag using Bluetooth, chances are that lost items can be located if left in a public place. Once located, the network reports the whereabouts of your lost item in the background anonymously. Users can also put AirTags into lost mode, and if someone finds your item and taps it with an iPhone or NFC-capable device, their browser will open to a page listing your phone number if you’ve set one up.
AirTags have been designed with privacy and security in mind. Location data isn’t stored in the AirTag itself, and it communicates securely using end-to-end encryption over the Find My network. To discourage tracking of people instead of items, Apple says Bluetooth signal identifiers are rotated frequently. The device can also tell when it’s with you and alert you if you are traveling with an unknown AirTag that someone may have planted on you. Also, if an AirTag is away from its owner for a period of time, it will also play a sound to alert people nearby of its presence.