Apple is largely expected to debut some type of Bluetooth and Ultra Wideband tracking device in the future, allowing users to locate everyday items via the Find My app.
But rumors about the so-called AirTags have been fairly sporadic over the past year or so, which can make tracking down specific details a bit tedious. With that in mind, here’s everything we know about AirTags so far.
What Are Apple AirTags?
Based on assets within iOS 13.2’s code, AirTags are essentially small circular tracking tags that you’ll be able to attach to items like wallets, bags, keys, purses and more.
Like other popular tracking devices, AirTags will allow users to locate items or play a sound from their iPhones or other devices. Presumably, users will attach them to items via adhesive or some type of ring attachment point.
There are also hints that AirTags will feature a swappable battery. It isn’t clear whether they’ll use a common type of battery or something more proprietary, but there are assets within iOS 13 suggesting that users will be able to swap the battery out themselves.
While the moniker isn’t necessarily confirmed, there are some firm indications that Apple now owns the AirTag trademark by way of a shell company.
How Will Users Track Items?
It looks like users will be able to track their AirTag-equipped items through a new “Items” tab in the Find My app.
Like lost iPhones or AirPods, AirTags will presumably show up on the app’s map. Users will be able to have the AirTag play a loud chime sound so that they can locate them.
There’s also a chance that augmented reality will play a part in item location. The Find My app may feature an ARKit component that will overlay some type of graphic, like a balloon, over an AirTag’s location so that users can see them via an iPhone’s viewfinder.
A code string within iOS 13 gives an example: “Walk around several feet and move your iPhone up and down until a balloon comes in view.”
How Accurate Will AirTags Be?
Most current rumors suggest that AirTags will be extremely accurate. While exact details are sparse, it’s likely that users will be able to locate items with much more precision than Bluetooth trackers like Tile.
That’s largely because they’re rumored to sport Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology. Unlike Bluetooth, which is simply based on signal strength, UWB can function basically like indoor GPS for location tracking with pinpoint precision.
Apple’s latest iPhones feature a proprietary U1 Ultra Wideband chip. It isn’t clear if AirTags will only be compatible with these newer devices or if they’ll default to Bluetooth tracking with older ones.
Will AirTags Work over a Long Distance?
AirTags are expected to feature Bluetooth and UWB location tracking, but there’s nothing to suggest that they’ll have any type of cellular capability. That means you won’t be able to track them over longer distances.
With that being said, AirTags will feature a Lost Mode that will function a lot like the new offline Find My tracking. When it’s enabled, other iPhone users will be able to see an AirTag owner’s contact information. The owner will also receive a notification when the other iPhone finds the item.
As mentioned earlier, you’ll also get a notification on your iPhone if you leave an AirTag behind somewhere. To counter false positives, users will be able to set Safe Locations — such as their home — that won’t trigger these boundary alerts.
AirTags Price and Release Date
The numerous references to AirTags hidden within iOS 13’s code suggested that the tracking devices were just over the horizon. Because of that, we’ve largely been expecting them to arrive sooner than later.
This week, well-respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also predicted that AirTags will arrive within the first half of the year. More specifically, it could debut alongside other new products this spring.
As far as price, that’s much less clear. Hidden code and the latest rumors haven’t given any indication of AirTag’s pricing.
Similar devices, like the Tile tracker, are typically priced in the $25 to $35 range per tag. AirTags could feature similar pricing. On the other hand, since AirTags are likely to feature more advanced features, they may be slightly more expensive than their closest competitors.