(Pocket-lint) – Apple announced AirTag at an event in April 2021. A product to rival Tile, Apple’s AirTag will enable users to locate lost or stolen items through the Find My app on their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.
They are circular discs and feature the same ultra-wideband tech as Apple’s iPhone 12 and other recent devices.
Here’s everything you need to know about AirTags, including what features they offer, when they will be available to buy and how much they will cost.
Apple AirTag release date
- Announced 20 April
- Pre-order from 23 April
- Available from 30 April
Apple announced the AirTag at its Spring Loaded event on 20 April. Pre-orders for the AirTags will start on 23 April.
The Apple AirTag will then be available from 30 April.
Apple AirTag price
- $29/£29 for one
- $99/£99 for four
The Apple AirTag will cost $29 in the US, or $99 for four in the US.
There are a number of extra accessories available to buy separately, including Parisian fashion brand Hermes accessories.
- 32mm diameter, 6mm thickness (TBC)
- IP67 protection
- User-removable CR2032 battery
- Personalisation available
The Apple AirTag is a circular devices. It has a laser-etched polished stainless steel finish, which makes it a little more premium in appearance than some of its competitors, while their circular shape also differentiates them.
It was claimed in rumours that the AirTag is 32mm in diameter and 6mm thick, but we’re waiting to confirm this.
The AirTag has a user-removable battery – which is claimed to last around a year. This is a standard CR2032 cell, so easy to buy when you need to replace it.
There’s a built-in speaker and they are IP67 water and dust resistant, which allows for submergence in water of 1-metre for 30 minutes.
Apple AirTag can also be personalised, such as with an emoji or a name. There are also a range of accessories available for AirTag, including keyrings and loops that will enable the AirTag to be attached to various items, like backpacks, easily.
- Find My app tracking
- Precision Finding
- Ask Siri to find
- Seamless setup
Apple AirTag is designed to keep track of everyday items, such as your keys or your backpack. It is tightly integrated with iOS, with access and control via the Find My app on your Apple device.
U1 and Bluetooth connectivity
The Apple AirTag features Apple’s U1 chip, which can also be found in the Apple iPhone 12 models, iPhone 11 models, the Apple Watch Series 6 and the HomePod mini.
The “U” in U1 stands for “ultra-wideband” (UWB), which is a low-energy, short-range radio technology used for wireless data transmission. The distance between two UWB devices can be measured much more precisely than Bluetooth by calculating the time that it takes for radio waves to pass between the two devices, which makes it great for finding lost items.
On top of the U1 chip, AirTag will also use Bluetooth, so anyone with an iOS 14.5 or iPadOS 14.5 device will be able to use them – even without the U1.
The AirTag will pair with your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad just as easily as your AirPods do. When you hold the AirTag close to your iPhone, you’ll be prompted to connect – and that’s it, the AirTag will be connected to your phone.
You’ll have to be signed into an Apple account and using the Find My service, which will require access to iCloud. The AirTag will appear in the Find My app as an item. That’s about all there is for pairing. You’ll have the option to rename your AirTag, so it can be keys or backpack or whatever you like.
You then just have to attach it to your item or slip it into your bag and forget about it, until you lose your item.
Finding with Find My
AirTag will come into its own when you misplace something. If you’re at home and you’ve lost your keys, you’ll probably still be connected to the AirTag via Bluetooth, so you’ll just be able to use the built-in speaker to locate you to their location. You’ll even be able to ask Siri to find your devices.
You’ll also be able to use the U1 chip and the Precision Finding system to accurately find your item. Because the U1 will use UWB to locate the AirTag precisely, it can guide you to it via the screen on your phone.
That part of the equation is simple. It’s outside the house when things get a lot more interesting.
Because your phone knows where your AirTag was last seen, you’ll be able to see the location in your Find My app. At the very least, you’ll be able to go back and collect something if you leave it behind. But if it’s really lost, you can place your AirTag into Lost Mode.
That will then leverage the wider Find My network to locate your device. This will allow other Apple devices to detect the lost AirTag. This happens in the backgroud, securely and privately, so that if a lost AirTag is detected, the location can be sent back to the owner. This will all happen in the background, with the owner just getting an alert saying where the AirTag was detected. The owner can then go and retrieve the lost item.
This all takes place with privacy in mind, so not even Apple will be able to see what’s happening, it’s all encrypted, all happens in the background, so people won’t be able to detect AirTags and steal them, for example.
Apple takes this a step further. If someone finds a device with a AirTag attached, they can tap it using any NFC device, when they’ll be taken to a website with contact information – if the owner has supplied it. That means that if you leave your purse in a bar, someone with a Samsung phone could find it, tap the AirTag and call you to let you know.
In addition, to stop unwanted tracking, you’ll be able to detect if an unknown AirTag appears to be moving with you. This is to stop someone slipping an AirTag into your pocket and then watching where you go. You’ll be alerted to such unrecognised AirTags, so you can disable or return them.
A chronology of Apple AirTag rumours before launch
Here’s everything we heard about the Apple Tags/AirTags before they were officially revealead.
20 April 2021: Apple AirTags officially launched
Apple announced the AirTags at the Spring Loaded event on 20 April.
13 April 2021: Apple Spring Loaded event confirmed for 20 April
Apple has confirmed that it will be hosting an event on 20 April to launch new devices. AirTags are expected to be announced.
8 April 2021: Apple Find My app can now find third-party accessories
Apple has announced third-party support for devices in Find My, paving the way for more focus on finding devices.
26 March 2021: Now we know how big they’ll be
Leaker Max Weinbach says they’ll be 32mm in diameter and 6mm. thick. That’s just a little larger than a US half-dollar coin or a UK £2 coin.
15 February 2021: AirTags could launch in April
Max Weinbach claimed in a video that the AirTags could launch in March or April. The latter month now appears to be the case.
26 January 2021: Apple AirTag accessories start to appear
The AirTags launch appears to be close thanks to the appearance of a few accessories online. There’s a faux leather Spigen keyring holder for the tag plus a glasses cord from Nomad featuring a holder, too. And there’s also a keychain holder from Nomad too. We’re now thinking the AirTags launch will be in the Spring, potentially March.
9 October 2020: Apple’s AirTag trackers might not arrive until March 2021
Leaker Jon Prosser, who has a mixed track record, shared on Twitter that Apple pushed the release of AirTags back to next spring.
9 September 2020: Apple’s Tile-like AirTags enter production: Launching this autumn?
Nikkei Asian Review claims the Apple AirTags have finally entered production, suggesting you may be able to buy them soon.
8 September 2020: Apple announces Special Event
Apple announced it would hold a virtual Special Event on 15 September. The invite says “Time Flies” but of course, it is not confirmed what will be revealed at the event.
1 September 2020: Apple Air Tags could launch with iPhone 12
Japanese site Mac Otakara claims the Apple Air Tags could launch alongside the iPhone 12 and Apple Watch Series 6 and that they might work with App Clips.
18 April 2020: AirTags sounds found in code
Leaker Soybeys found some AirTags sound effects in iOS code which we assume would be played when your tracker is located or when you walk away from your tracker and break the Bluetooth connection.
3 April 2020: AirTags name revealed
Apple appears to have accidentally name-dropped AirTags. The slip-up occurred in a now-deleted video published to the Apple Support YouTube channel.
25 February 2020: Apple’s AirTags might be waterproof, use magnetic wireless charging
More credible information has surfaced on Apple’s Tile-like devices, thought to be called Apple Tags or AirTags.
18 February 2020: Apple Tag location trackers might actually launch later this year
Since Apple Tags or whatever they end up being called will be an entirely new product category, we suspect Apple might actually unveil them at WWDC.
28 October 2019: Apple’s Tile-like tracking devices might actually be called AirTags
Apple for months has been rumoured to be working on Tile-like trackers you can attach to items. They might be called AirTags.
4 June 2019: Will Apple launch its own Tile-like Tag tracker? Maybe in September
We really thought Apple was going to announce Tile-like trackers alongside its new Find My service at WWDC 2019.
18 April 2019: Apple is making a Tile-like tracker to go with an all-new Find my iPhone app
Apple is planning to combine its Find my iPhone and Find my Friends services and open them up to non-Apple devices with new hardware that tracks you.
Writing by Britta O’Boyle and Maggie Tillman.