With Apple’s Search application, any user can check from a device where others are, such as the iPhone, the Apple Watch, the iPad o go AirPods. But many of the objects that are lost in the day to day are not connected. The Cupertino company is aware of this and has just launched a device to solve it. It is the AirTag, a device with a circular shape that is used to locate keys, a backpack or even a bike with the mobile.
Apple’s idea is not new. Its objective is to stand up to the Tile company, popular for manufacturing this type of device, and to Samsung. The South Korean company introduced in early 2020 the Galaxy SmartTag, a pager that is quite noisy and costs about 40 euros. The device, which only works with the smartphones from Samsung, promises to locate objects in real time about 120 meters away.
EL PAÍS has tested the new AirTags, that went on sale on April 30 for 35 euros. A pack for four devices it costs 119 euros. The device is quite compact. It is the size of a two euro coin and reminds of the classic round pins. On one of its sides, it is white. The user you can choose whether to record on it emojis, texts and numbers. On the other hand, the surface of the AirTag resembles a mirror. In the middle of it, you have the famous apple of the Cupertino company.
These appliances are waterproof. The manufacturer indicates that they can be submerged up to one meter for 30 minutes. Its replaceable battery “lasts over a year.” To be able to attach an AirTag to any object, it is necessary to buy an accessory that holds it, unless, for example, we want to carry it loose in the bag. The prices of the keyrings or straps that Apple sells for this purpose equal or even exceed those of the devices themselves. While the leather straps cost 35 euros, the keyrings cost 39 euros. However, some stores sell non-original accessories that fit the AirTag for much lower prices.
As is often the case with devices in the Apple ecosystem, AirTags can only be used if you have an iPhone or iPad. Setting them up is very simple. To do this, you must have the iPhone with the latest update software available and activate the bluetooth. When placing the AirTag within five centimeters of the mobile, a warning will appear on the screen to connect the device. The user can choose what name to put on each device depending on where they are going to put it: from the headphones to the bag through the bike, a camera, a wallet, a backpack, a jacket, luggage, keys or an umbrella. Any other name can also be used.
When an object is lost, there are different ways to find it. The first step is to open the application Look for. If what has been lost is nearby, the best option is probably to activate the “precision search”. An arrow will indicate the exact location of the object in question. “Three meters to your right”, indicates for example the application. Apple explains that the iPhone uses ultra-wideband technology to determine the distance and direction of the AirTag. In addition, it uses the data collected by the camera, the accelerometer or the gyroscope.
The precision search works quite well and is very useful for finding a specific object. Apple hasn’t specified how far this option works. In the tests carried out by this newspaper, this alternative has been especially useful since it is about 10 meters from the device. Sometimes, despite not being very far from the device, it is indicated that “the signal is very weak” and the user is asked to try to move to another location. This option is not useful when the AirTag is not stationary. If the object is moving, the app indicates that it cannot detect “accurate information.”
Another useful option for when you are close to the object in question is to ring the device. Just say “hey Siri, where are my keys” to make it start beeping. It is also possible to choose this option from the mobile. As you do so, the AirTag begins to emit a series of beeps. This option is very useful in a quiet place. However, sometimes it is missing that it is stronger. Devices like the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag emit a more powerful sound. In a bar or in a place with people talking, it is very likely that the user will not hear the AirTag beeps.
Devices that are far away and “lost mode”
But what if the lost item is far away and these options cannot be used? “If you’ve left something on the beach or in the gym, don’t panic,” says the company. Apple’s Find network allows the device to be discovered by other users with an iPhone, iPad or Mac who pass near it. In this way, the user will be able to consult the directions to get there in the Maps application. Samsung offers a similar option with the Galaxy SmartTag. Allows you to use the Galaxy Find network so that other users can detect the device.
Apple ensures that only the user can see where their AirTag is and that the location is never stored in it. Furthermore, it indicates that all collected data is anonymous and encrypted. “Devices on the Search network that broadcast the location of your AirTag also remain anonymous and the location data is encrypted every step of the way. Therefore, no one, not even Apple, knows the location of your AirTag or the identity of any device that helps to find it, “he says.
In the event of not finding the device or not being able to access its location, the user can activate “lost mode”. This way, you will receive a notification when the location is available. You can also choose which message you want to show to whoever finds the object and leave them a contact phone number. Apple stresses that since the AirTag is linked to a particular Apple ID (account), no one else will be able to use it.