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Apple’s AirTags had been rumoured for almost a year by the time fans finally caught their first glimpse of these possession-tracking gadgets during the firm’s “Spring Loaded” event earlier this week. If you missed the big announcement, the concept behind the AirTags is very simple. These round gadgets can attach to your wallet, handbag, or keys and reveal where they are on a map, should you happen to mislay them.
A small speaker tucked inside can boom out an alert and there are even some precise directions that appear on your iPhone to point you in the exact direction of the AirTag. This works when you are in close proximity to the device with arrows guiding you to the location and the remaining distance telling you how much further you have to walk.
Now, you may be wondering what happens when you leave your keys on the train or in the pub and you’re well out of Bluetooth range from your little hockey puck-like tracker.
Apple has thought of this common problem with its all-new AirTags now able to be set to “Lost Mode”. This taps into the dizzying number of Apple-branded smartphones in pockets worldwide. Any iPhone that passes close enough to connect to the Bluetooth beacon beamed out by your lost AirTag will help pinpoint its location – making sure the spot on the map in your Find My app is almost always up-to-date.
All of this is encrypted, so you won’t be able to track anyone’s location using an AirTag on their keys, or find out their Apple ID account name from a misplaced camera bag, for example.
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If a lost AirTag is found by someone, they even can tap it against their iPhone or any NFC-capable device (including Android phones!) and be taken to a website that will display contact details for the worried owner, if they have provided a number or address.
Other features include a water-resistant design and a changeable battery which should mean the AirTag lasts a pretty long time.
They are available to pre-order today with prices starting from £29.99 for one or £99.99 for a pack of four. That sounds pretty reasonable but there is something to be aware of before tapping the “Buy” button.
That’s because the small disk-shaped device doesn’t ship with any way to attach it to your items. Unlike the popular Tile trackers, there’s no hole or chain to help strap it to your keyring or bag.
Anyone wanting to clip it to their belongings will be forced to spend extra on an accessory …and they aren’t exactly cheap. A leather keyring holder will set you back at least £35 with prices rocketing to £299 for the posh Hermes version.
A leather luggage strap costs £39 and the AirTag Loop will set you back £29.
Some third-party firms such as Belkin are producing cheaper options but these will still set you back at least £11.95.
If you buy an AirTag and it saves your keys from being lost down the back of a seat in your local cinema, or helps you pinpoint a lost backpack in seconds – these extras will be worth every penny. However, it is worth remembering that buying a pack of four and an accessory for each could leave you with a pretty hefty bill.
Speaking at the launch of these trackers, Kaiann Drance, Apple Vice President of Worldwide iPhone Product Marketing, said: “We’re excited to bring this incredible new capability to iPhone users with the introduction of AirTag, leveraging the vast Find My network, to help them keep track of and find the important items in their lives. With its design, unparalleled finding experience, and built-in privacy and security features, AirTag will provide customers with another way to leverage the power of the Apple ecosystem and enhance the versatility of iPhone.”
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