AirTag

I’ve purchased a handful of Tiles over the past few years. I keep them in each of my bags so they are easily findable when I’m traveling. There hasn’t been as much use for them lately, obviously, but I still like the product quite a bit.

I’ve even purchased a couple for my father-in-law after an incident where he lost his keys in the yard while mowing. It took him a day or two to eventually find them. If he had a Tile on his keys then, it would have only been a few short minutes using the chime to hone in on them.

These little finder gadgets are a great idea for a product. And I think Tile has a pretty good implementation. But there’s nothing like something integrated into the system. Tile got Sherlocked. At least until they add Find My support to their devices.

In addition to integrating with the system’s Find My app, Apple one-upped Tile quite a bit on the technology end of things. With help from the U1 chip, when locating an AirTag, the app displays a delightful arrow pointing in the direction of the device.

And of course, it can play a chime too.

But if you’re even further away, AirTags communicate with nearby iPhones, iPads, and Macs to phone home, so-to-speak. This could have privacy concerns, but Apple addresses that on their product page:

Only you can see where your AirTag is. Your location data and history are never stored on the AirTag itself. Devices that relay the location of your AirTag also stay anonymous, and that location data is encrypted every step of the way. So not even Apple knows the location of your AirTag or the identity of the device that helps find it.

In terms of battery life, Apple claims that they can last more than a year, but they also use standard, user-replaceable CR2032 batteries. It’s been a while since Apple shipped a product with a replaceable battery – I think maybe the keyboard, mouse, and trackpad that took AAs was the last one to ship like that.

You can order AirTags starting on Friday for $29 a piece or $99 for a four-pack. And they offer free engraving for each one. It’s limited to just four characters, but that’s likely enough to identify which one is which.

It’s not all good news, though. The biggest omission with AirTag compared to Tile is the lack of a hook mechanism. There isn’t anything built-in to the AirTag that let’s you attach it to something else. Sure, you can just drop it into a pocket or pouch inside of your bag, but if you want to attach it with a loop or keychain, you’ll have to buy an accessory.

And these accessories aren’t cheap. They take, what appears to be a reasonably priced $29 AirTag and turns it into a pretty expensive kit. Every single Apple-made loop and keychain is at least as expensive as the AirTag itself. Belkin has some options that are less costly, but they’re still a bit more than I’d prefer.

Still, I expect I’ll end up with at least one of these. I can throw it in my bag and have a slick interface for finding it if misplaced. But I’m not sure if I really want to spring the $99 plus the cost of accessories to replace my existing Tiles. Although, maybe I can find a much cheaper way to attach them to things.

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