Home Product Reviews Apple AirTags: How Do They Work?

Apple AirTags: How Do They Work?

by Tyrone Young
how to use apple air tags

Apple is getting ready to unveil a slew of new products this year, and one of the most talked about among these are the rumored Apple AirTags. Although previous leaks suggested that they were going to be called Apple Tags, an accidental leak from Apple itself shows that the up-and-coming technology is going to be dubbed AirTags, in line with the company’s other product lines like the AirPods, the MacBook Air, and the iPad Air, which seems to suggest that these products are going to be sleek, lightweight, and full of Apple’s premium innovation.

But what exactly are Apple AirTags?

how apple air tag work

Mockup Render of Apple AirTags (Image from MacRumors)

What are Apple AirTags?

Apple AirTags is an upcoming product from Apple that has yet to be officially confirmed. Essentially, AirTags are going to be Apple-brand tracking devices that can be attached to devices to make sure you always know where to find them. Using a combination of wireless technologies like GPS, Bluetooth, and the new UWB (ultra-wideband) technology which we’ll go into later, Apple AirTags are set to revolutionize the tracking device industry with all sorts of features and optimizations for the Apple ecosystem to set it apart from the competition.

Speaking of the competition, Apple AirTags looks like they’re going to be designed to go toe-to-toe with the current market leader for tracking devices, Tile, which uses similar technology and use-cases as the upcoming Apple product.

But what will set Apple AirTags apart from other devices? How are the Apple AirTags any different? Truth be told, there’s not a lot of information to go around, as Apple’s been really secretive regarding the development and production of these devices. However, here are some features that we can expect to see when the AirTags officially release, at least based on leaks from the top Apple insiders in the industry.

apple air tags

Image from Jon Prosser on Twitter

Features of Apple AirTags

UWB Technology

UWB, or Ultra-wideband, is a new kind of technology that allows for powerful signal transmission with low power consumption. While Bluetooth tracking devices already work well, Apple AirTags are the first of its kind to use UWB, promising increased precision when you need to locate your valuables. UWB capability was first seen in the Apple iPhone 11 and its variants, but with Apple AirTags, you can get the same, powerful tracking capabilities on any device you want to attach it to.

Augmented Reality

Tracking devices are built on simple technology – track a device using GPS, and transmit that location over Bluetooth or other wireless systems. Apple AirTags, however, may utilize augmented reality to give you the most precise measurements possible. Especially when you need to find something nearby, utilizing a powerful technology like Augmented Reality will allow users to pinpoint the precise location of each of their devices.

‘Find My’ App Integration

Unlike other tracking devices that need to jump through all sorts of hoops to become fully compatible with the Apple ecosystem, Apple AirTags will definitely come with native iOS support, and that means you’ll never have to worry about permissions and app controls. The latest reports suggest that the Apple AirTags will integrate seamlessly with the built-in Find My app on iPhones and other iOS devices. Plus, you’ll be safeguarded by Apple’s comprehensive policies on privacy.

Small Form-factor

Although nothing has been confirmed regarding the actual device, leaks suggest that Apple AirTags are going to be smaller, sleeker, and more lightweight than its competitors – just like most Apple products. With a small form-factor, Apple AirTags can be used with just about anything – your phone, your wallet, your keys, and everything else that you don’t want to lose – without weighing you down or adding too much bulk.

Audio Pings

For locating nearby devices, Apple AirTags will come with the standard feature of being able to play sound to help you locate your device more easily. When tracking the device with the Find My app, audio cues will be provided to let you know when you’re getting closer or farther to the device, with unique sounds to let you know precisely where to find your AirTagged item.

Lost Mode Feature

When you lose your device and it isn’t somewhere nearby, Apple AirTags will likely have a feature called Lost Mode. When Lost Mode is turned on, any other Apple device in proximity to your lost item will receive information that can help them contact you and return your device safely. You’ll also receive a notification when your device comes across any iOS device running iOS 13 or later, with Bluetooth stepping in to save the day and help you find out where you left your item.

Safe Locations

With the Safe Locations feature that’s said to be available on the Apple AirTags, you’ll be able to set geographic boundaries like your home or your office. When an AirTag is left at a safe location, the device will know that it’s not lost, so you won’t have to deal with notifications telling you otherwise. On the other hand, if a device does leave a safe location, you’ll automatically get notified when it happens, alerting you of any possible theft.

Replaceable Batteries

It took a while for tracking devices like Tile to offer replaceable batteries on their devices. Prior to the addition of this feature, you’d have to throw out your trackers and buy new ones when the battery died. While it is yet to be confirmed, sources suggest that Apple AirTags will come with replaceable batteries at launch.

apple air tag usage

Image from MacRumor

Apple AirTags Latest Leaks

As previously mentioned, a lot of what we know about the Apple AirTags is hearsay – some with strong basis and some just pure speculation – so take these leaks with a grain of salt. Apple has yet to confirm or deny the information presented below, but they’re from reliable sources who have been right before when it comes to new Apple products.

Apple AirTags Price

The price tag on the upcoming Apple AirTags are currently unknown, but given Apple’s reputation and the innovations that come with their products, we can expect these tracking devices to be priced at par or higher than current market offerings. Tile offers a range of tracking devices for as low as $25 (Tile Mate) and as high as $35 (Tile Pro). With that, the expected price for the Apple AirTags is around $30 to $40.

Apple AirTags Release Date

There was no news regarding the Apple AirTags at the Apple Event held just this September, which makes it likely that we’ll be seeing the AirTags launch this October alongside the assumed release of the new iPhone 12.

That said, there’s no evidence to support this claim either, but industry insiders have been following tech companies like this for the entirety of their careers, and most of the time, their estimates are on-point.

Apple AirTags Design

We haven’t seen what they’re going to look like, but thanks to the community-made renders of the upcoming tracking devices, we have a good notion of the design language behind the Apple AirTags. In stark contrast to Tile, which offers square and rectangular-shaped tracking devices, chances are the AirTags are going to be circular in shape. Based on the leaked renders from Jon Prosser, the AirTags will have a clean white front-facing area with the Apple Logo hidden on the polished metal underside.

Will Apple AirTags Work With iOS 13 or Older?

If the AirTags are launching soon, then they’ll undoubtedly come with full native support for iOS 14, the latest version of Apple’s flagship mobile operating system. However, if you don’t want to make the upgrade or you’re using older hardware, don’t worry! The details aren’t official, but iOS 13 already has the building blocks for AirTags functionality. We’re expecting any device that can run iOS 13 (iPhone 6S and newer) should be compatible with the upcoming Apple AirTags.

how to use airtags

Image from MacRumors

Apple AirTags vs Tile

The question on a lot of people’s minds is “how is it going to be different from Tile?” In fact, this question has been asked so many times that some people are even beginning to wonder if they’ll be any different at all. But this is Apple we’re talking about, and each year they’ve delivered on innovation.

In terms of functionality, the Apple AirTags are going to be quite similar to Tile, the current market leader in tracking devices. However, if the leaks are to be believed, the AirTags are going to launch with an edge over the competition.

Unlike Tile and other tracking devices on the market, Apple AirTags are going to be UWB capable – which means better, more precise tracking across the board thanks to the cutting-edge technology that is ultra-wideband. AirTags might also be supplemented by Apple’s Augmented Reality technology – something that Apple does better than any other company in the world.

Plus, for people who are already part of the Apple ecosystem, Apple AirTags will be able to provide unparalleled support and compatibility with your devices. They’ll work seamlessly with the Find My app, which also means they’ll receive new updates and features constantly along with iOS.

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