We have been hearing about AirTags for so long that it seems that we already know their functions by 'little finger', although in reality they have not been officially presented until last week and they have not been put on sale until this Friday. They gave so many clues that even Samsung managed to get ahead . These accessories have appeared for two years in all those unofficial pools that are made in the specialized mentideros before each and every one of Apple's events for a long time. It is a kind of Bluetooth locator designed to locate multiple objects such as bags, backpacks or bicycles with the help of an iPhone, an iPad or a Mac.An ideal accessory for those who have an almost pathological capacity to lose their keys every two by three at home and who end up arriving late because just when they are going to go out the door they cannot find the key ring.
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The concept is far from revolutionary. Tile, a North American company, has been selling them since the middle of the last decade and now even makes them in the form of a credit card for the wallet. Behind him appeared companies like Chipiolo and a good handful of white brands that can be found online. Even Vodafone has tried to get a foothold with its own tracking device in a business that is far from being big. Something that those of Cupertino intend to change with this accessory designed to work only on iOS and with the 'Search' app , the same one that serves to locate the phone or the apple computer when you do not know where you have left it, you have lost it or it has been stolen from you.
You'll make it? Nor did the 'wearables' seem the most popular in the world and the Apple Watch has managed to be a money-making machine 'omitting' 80% of the market. It is not scientific evidence, but it seems quite true that the faithful of the apple have looser wallets than those of other brands.
What is an AirTag?
The AirTags hold in a portfolio the same space, more or less, than a coin two euros . It doesn't have much more mystery. On one side they are white and on the other they reveal the metal, with the apple logo. Some of those who have tried it have said that you risk scratching this side of the device and have shown photos. It is not my case, but it is true that if you are going to carry it in a bag or at the bottom of a backpack, it looks like you can carry a brand.
They use a button cell, which lasts for one year of battery life. Then it can be easily exchanged. The user himself can do it. This is something to be thankful for, but also a small weakness. If a backpack is stolen and the one who has done it notices that there is one of these locators, they can easily knock it out of play.
Its design is resistant to water and dust (IP67) so you do not have to worry about splashes, rain or the occasional dip. And that's it. There is nothing more to comment on its external appearance. Setup is as easy as AirPods . It is to remove a strip of plastic, bring the phone a few centimeters and it detects it. It asks you to give it a name and shortly after you have it in the 'Search' app on your iPhone or iPad in a tab called 'Objects'. There the name appears next to the icon (backpack, wallet, keys ...), it tells you if it is with you or if not, how long ago and how many meters it was last seen.
It should be said that they are only compatible with iOS 14.5 , which has been available since last Monday. The AirTags are equipped with Apple's U1 processor and work with 'Bluetooth Low Energy'. This technology has a range, depending on the situations, of 50 or 100 meters. In general, it has perfectly detected the distance at which the beacon in question is, although there are times that it has cost more than others. For example, when I go down to the newspaper bar, he understands that the keys and the backpack are with me, when in fact it is one floor higher and a few meters beyond.
Precise search visually guides you to the lost item
If you click on the object in question, a very simple menu will be displayed from which you can do various things. The first, make it whistle . If you have dropped your keys between the sofa cushions and cannot find them, press this option and the AirTag begins to beep quite generously to help you find them. I have managed to hear it easily from the other room. But you can't always do this. Have you dropped your keys at a concert, in a bar or in a louder place? Then you have the option of activating a tool that could well be called 'Hot and cold'.
At that moment, your iPhone will become a kind of compass that will tell you if you have it in front, behind, to the right or to the left . This, a function called 'Search with precision', is possible thanks to the Ultra Wide Band technology, so it could only be used with the iPhone 12 and previous generation. I have done multiple tests and it is curious to see how it guides you, indicating the direction the distance with great precision. In my tests I have managed to make it work about 14-15 meters around the object, with walls in between. As you get closer it indicates with vibration, sound and color that you are on the right path.
The truth is that the development of this tool is very fine, precise and very fluid . The icing on the cake would have been a system whereby when you step away from your AirTag you would receive a notification on your phone saying "Hey, Michael, you're leaving your wallet" and you could go back for it.
Another function, in addition to options to rename or restore it, that you find in that menu is ' Lost Mode '. This allows you to set up a message and put your phone number. If someone finds it and has a mobile equipped with NFC, all they have to do is bring the locator closer to the back, as if they were paying with their 'smartphone', so that they get a URL where our message appears.
It does not matter whether the terminal from which the AirTag is found is iOS or Android. It requires them to do this process because, if not, they will not get the notice that it is lost or your contact information. The idea is fine, but perhaps it would make sense to be able to leave a contact email and not necessarily a phone number . More than anything for offering options with which people feel more comfortable and secure.
Someone can find your keys and your phone, call you and try to find out your address . It is true that it seems highly unlikely, but it also seems that people fall into 'phishing' campaigns through emails with links to access brutal photos of the party last night where you were not and there are people who have bitten. Well that.
A huge security mesh ...
One of the strengths of AirTags lies not in the number of AirTags that are sold, but in the number of iPhones or iPads that are sold. Because if you lose it or go out of range, it will send an encrypted signal to devices that run iOS 14.5 and macOS BigSur 11.3 and have Bluetooth turned on . In this way, if you lose something or it is stolen, you could access your position whenever you come across these phones on the road, which is not complicated in a big city considering the number of iPhones that are sold annually.
Of course, by working only with the latest installment of the software for your mobiles and computers, this security mesh now has more holes than in a few weeks when the phones of previous generations are updated. It should also be noted that the update rate on iOS is vastly higher than Android. This idea of relying on the user community to find lost objects has already been tried by Tile.
Apple wants all its devices to anonymously locate lost AirTags
But it is not the same to have them download the 'app' and buy a device like the case of this company, than to use a function already installed in the operating system of the devices, as Apple does, regardless of whether they have an AirTag or not. .
... with a small gap
An object the size of a two euro coin that is able to give me its position continuously just by being near an iPhone? Said like this, it is likely that somebody else thinks that it could be used to track people . From the company they have already said that it is not designed for that and have asked not to use it for another purpose. But relying on the goodwill of the people is not enough and that is why they have tried to establish some measures.
In the event that the AirTag is near an iPhone that does not belong to its owner, which would mean it is broadcasting and refreshing its position every few minutes, it will show you a message that will tell you that it has one of those pagers on it. If it belongs to your partner, family member or a colleague, who, for example, has left you the car keys, all you have to do is ignore the notice. If it is not yours, it will explain how to deactivate it, see if it has the lost mode activated or remove the battery. Even if it is well hidden it will allow you to make it sound.
To really test if this is enough, I have done a test. I asked my boss to update the iPhone to iOS 14.5 and put an AirTag in his backpack. All informed and with consent, that in Teknautas we are faithful believers of the RGPD. He left after 17 in the afternoon. We were commenting on the play by a WhatsApp group. At 400 meters, the image froze for a few minutes and we thought that even the AirTag had already located that it was far from the nest, but it did not show the warning for something. However, when he arrived at a train station, he again showed signs of life. And at the destination station, it again relayed its location. We could see how he was crossing Madrid.It was not until the end of the day when the alert went out and when he could decide to cut the transmission. He was able to check the route that had been logged. It is the only exception in which the 'app' records locations and is deleted at the moment the location is authorized to share or it is blocked.
This time, it was an innocent test, but it has helped us to detect that there is room to follow a person, at least for a few hours . It is surprising that Apple has not refined more in this regard, considering that it is one of the companies that has opted the most for privacy as a sales pitch and most respects the personal information of its community.
Recovering the idea that the AirTag warns you when you are separating from it, the solution to this problem would be a software update that shortens the terms of that first notice that you have one of these parts on you and that it does not belong to you. Instead of waiting when you get home or at 11pm, the logical thing is that you jump much earlier . It is also true that it is not something that many people think of and that to achieve it several circumstances have to concur (updated iPhone, Bluetooth on all the time ...) but when it comes to protecting privacy and information personal all the 'locks' that we can put, better than better.
Despite security, someone can be tracked without knowing it for a few hours
In the event that in the test we had tried to track someone with Android, the result would have differed . In this case we would need to meet someone with a terminal with the latest version of iOS. That would make it difficult to see where you are because you don't have a sneak iPhone in your pocket. However, the notice would not reach him for three days. It couldn't be a notification. The tablet would begin to emit sound when detecting movement, after that time, away from the phone with which it was registered.
If you are wondering if they serve to monitor your pet, the most likely answer is no and Apple points in this same direction because it simply does not have GPS. You have to think that the technology with which it works was conceived with other intentions, has a limited scope and depends on other mobiles to know its position. There are other types of devices designed for this purpose. What it can do for you is to remember where you left the car.
How much are AirTags priced?
Sold individually or in packs of four. If you buy them one by one, they will cost 35 euros each unit . The 4-pack is priced at 119 euros, which is a savings of 21 euros. When you buy them online, they can be personalized with an inscription or a name for free. It is not very cheap, but it is not extremely expensive either. The price is higher than that of other locators on the market (a Tile Pro can be found for 25 euros on the internet and the most basic models of the brand below 20). It's the same old story with Apple products. There will be those who will tear their clothes and there will be those who say, as in that video of the mayor of Madrid already viral, "it seems little to me"and be happy to pay that. It is a sterile debate that no one is going to win. Either way, it looks like they'll be sold like hotcakes.
The debate is the same. To some it will seem expensive and others will say: "It seems little to me"
What is perhaps most surprising is the price of the accessories. You can use an Apple AirTag loose and put it in your purse, backpack, purse or camera bag. But if you want to use it as a keychain you need a specific accessory. The apple has designed several. The cost of the cheapest (a silicone strap) is 35 euros. That is, they cost as much as an AirTag purchased individually. The leather ones are already 45. Some of the latter will be reminded of the 'lady' keyrings that one can find in the leather goods section of the Corte Inglés. But for tastes, the colors. In the end, those of second-row brands, like Belkin, go down to 13 euros and they do the job perfectly. So I would not be surprised at all if many end up resorting to these options or imitations of well-known Internet pages to get these accessories at a more reasonable price.
In summary, the AirTag is a product at Apple's cost and that is very well executed and fulfills its role, although it could expand functions with alerts that you leave yourself forgotten or with more rigid mechanisms to prevent it from being used for things for which they were not conceived.