Reports of Apple’s new item tracking tags have been all over the place in recent weeks — last month we were sure they’d be debuted at one of the recent Apple events, but then suddenly a new report suggested they weren’t actually coming until next year.
At this point, AirTags may very well be the most “on-again-off-again” rumoured product in recent years, especially after the same leaker, Jon Prosser, who originally said they were being delayed to March 2021 came back a week later noting that they could be coming next month after all.
What we do know is that Apple has been working on its new item tracking tags since at least early 2019; we heard the first murmurings about AirTags in the early spring of that year, although back then they were known only by an internal code-name of “B389.” However, when code appeared in the first iOS 13 beta referencing a new Tile-like device, it seemed clear that this was more than just a skunkworks project for Apple.
By last fall, the name “AirTags” actually started getting thrown around, and Apple itself inadvertently leaked the name this past spring when an official support video was posted that had been recorded running an internal version of iOS that showed a reference to the devices in one of the settings screens.
At this point, AirTags have rapidly become one of Apple’s worst-kept secrets, particularly since they’ve clearly been in development for such a long time, but the information about them is solid enough that it’s making Apple’s competitors nervous. However, just when we thought we knew everything about the new tags, another reliable leaker has come up with a new twist on the product.
According to @L0vetodream, who is uncannily accurate despite their often cryptic tweets, Apple may be releasing two different versions of its AirTags — a “big one” and a “small one” — and they’re also coming soon.
While @L0vetodream didn’t note which product they were referring to in the original tweet, it was quickly followed up by another tweet that simply added “tag TAG.”
While the tweets are still ambiguous enough to leave some doubt, this is how @L0vetodream rolls, and it certainly seems feasible. After all, this is likely to be Apple’s next big product unveiling, and with the HomePod mini and entire iPhone 12 lineup already out, it’s pretty hard to imagine what else “big one small one” could be referring to.
The “coming soon” aspect of the tweet also lines up with Prosser’s revised timeline; we were pretty skeptical about the original report of a delay into March 2021, since several reports suggested that AirTags are already in production. Prosser later confirmed this as well, stating that they’re ready to go and Apple has just been waiting on the right time, while also adding that iOS 14.3 will apparently include the final code to support them. While Prosser hedged his change of direction by suggesting that Apple had decided to release AirTags earlier because of delays with its AirPods Studio headphones, it’s hard to see how the two would be related.
We’ve already got a pretty good idea of what AirTags will look like from code found in iOS 13 last year, which revealed small circular white discs with an Apple logo on the front., while more recently Prosser shared some renders that he claims are based on the actual design of the tags, showing the Apple logo placed on a silver backing, while describing them as a “tad larger than a bottle cap.”
We also still don’t know exactly how they’ll be powered, as some reports have suggested that they would use a replaceable coin battery, like a CR2032, while others pointed to a rechargeable battery instead, possibly even with Qi charging support, although that latter point seems like a stretch due to the additional coils and other hardware that would be required to support it.
Of course, it’s equally possible that all of the rumours are true, in the sense that Apple has been testing multiple prototypes, but this latest news suggests another alternative: that the two different sizes could feature different battery and charging designs.
This is actually the first time we’ve heard about the possibility of AirTags in two different sizes, and it’s hard to imagine what the point would be unless they are differentiated in some other way, so it does make some sense that a larger one, perhaps intended to go into a bag or suitcase, could offer more capabilities — even simply longer battery life — and possibly even wireless charging, as compared to a smaller one that’s designed to hang off a keychain, which simply might not have the room for more sophisticated features.