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AirTags: Everything We Know So Far

MacRumors

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Apple is working on a Tile-like Bluetooth tracking device that's designed to be attached to items like keys and wallets for tracking purposes, letting you find them right in the Find My app.

Based on assets found in iOS 13.2 and trademarking details dug up by MacRumors, Apple seems to be planning to call its tracking accessory the "AirTag."

A mockup of what AirTags could look like​

AirTags are still in the works and there's no prospective release date yet, but signs of them have been found in iOS 13 betas so we do know a bit about what we can expect when they're available. This guide goes over everything that we know about AirTags at the current time.

What are AirTags?

AirTags are small tracking tiles with Bluetooth connectivity that can be used to find lost items. There are several similar products on the market, such as Tile and Adero, but Apple's version will be more deeply integrated with Apple devices.

How will AirTags work?

AirTags will have built-in chips that will allow them to connect to an iPhone, relaying the position of devices that they're attached to. You will be able to use your iPhone, iPad, and Mac to track the location of AirTags much like you do to find missing Apple devices.


What will AirTags look like?

Based on images found within an internal build of iOS 13, AirTags are small, circular white tags with an Apple logo on the front. Presumably, these will attach to items via adhesive or an attachment point like a ring, and there may be multiple ways to use them with different items.


Jon Prosser, who has a mixed track record when it comes to Apple, shared renders that he says are based on the actual design of the AirPods. The renders feature a flat white disc with no logo on the front and a silver backing with an Apple logo.


Prosser says that the AirTags are a "tad larger than a bottle cap" and that AirTags will come with a keychain that has a "little leather pouch on it" to accommodate the AirTags.

Leaker L0vetodream has suggested that AirTags are going to be available in two sizes, large and small, though it's unclear why two sizes would be required.

How will tracking items with AirTags work?

AirTags will show up in a new "Items" tab that will be available in the Find My app right alongside your Apple devices and your friends and family. With AirTags, the Find My app will be a one stop shop for anything that you want to find.


AirTags, like a lost iPhone or iPad, will show up on a map and will have an address listed where they can be tracked to.

What will happen if I lose an item that has an AirTag?

Based on code found in iOS 13, if you lose an item that has an AirTag on it, you'll get a notification on your iPhone. You'll then be able to tap a button in the Find My app that will cause the AirTag to chime loudly so you can locate something that's lost nearby.

It also appears that augmented reality will play a role in tracking down lost items. The Find My app may include an ARKit feature that lets you use augmented reality to track down an item that's nearby, with Apple using balloon assets to let you know visually where an item might be.


There's a string of code in iOS 13 that reads "Walk around several feet and move your iPhone up and down until a balloon comes into view."

Will AirTags still work if my item is far away?

Yes. If an item is not nearby and can't be located, you can put it into Lost Mode. In this mode, if another iPhone user comes across the list item, they'll be able to see your contact information so they can send you a text or give you a phone call to let you know the item has been found.

You'll also receive a notification as soon as an iPhone comes across your lost item. This feature that lets any iPhone detect a lost item is part of iOS 13, and it leverages Bluetooth to locate lost Apple devices and when released, AirTags.

Will I be able to set boundaries for AirTags?

Yes. In the Find My app, you can create Safe Locations. If an item with an Apple Tag is in a safe location (such as your home), you're not going to receive a notification when it's left behind.

If it leaves the safe location, you'll get a notification. You can also share the location of items with friends and family.

Will there be sounds?

The Find My app will provide sounds when you face the right direction when locating an AirTag, letting you know when a lost device is ahead of you, when you're nearby, or when it's in arms reach, with discouraging tones letting you know if you're off course.

How accurate are AirTags?

AirTags are rumored to be more accurate than your average Bluetooth item tracker like Tile because they're said to take advantage of ultra-wideband technology, which basically offers more accurate indoor positioning.

Apple's newest iPhones have a U1 ultra-wideband chip so they're going to be able to track ultra-wideband equipped AirTags more precisely than is possible with Bluetooth alone.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the use of an ultra-wideband chip in AirTags will "enhance the user experience of iOS's 'find' and augment reality (AR) applications by offering measurement functions in the short distance."

Will there be a replaceable battery?

Apple's AirTags could feature a removable and replaceable CR2032 coin battery, similar to the Tile Pro. A description of the tag found in iOS 14 code suggests the battery can be swapped out by unscrewing the back cover of the AirTag and then performing a counter-clockwise twisting motion.

A CR2032 battery would not be rechargeable and would require the battery to be replaced each year on average. The existence of the removable battery conflicts with other rumors that have suggested the AirTags would feature a rechargeable battery that charges with an Apple Watch-style charging puck, so Apple could be testing multiple prototypes.

What other features can we expect from AirTags?

There are still a lot of details that aren't known about the AirTags, so we may need to wait for launch to learn more about them.

Japanese site Mac Otakara says, though, that Apple's AirTags will be "completely waterproof."

What will AirTags cost?

There's no word on what Apple's AirTags will cost at this point in time, but similar products from companies like Tile are priced in the range of $25 to $35 for a single Bluetooth tracker.

Tile Bluetooth tracking tags​

Apple's AirTags could be priced similarly.

Apple accidentally confirms AirTags

Apple accidentally confirmed its work on AirTags in a support video uploaded in April. In the video, focused on Find My iPhone, the demo iPhone used was running a non-release version of iOS that had Offline Finding text referencing AirTags.


"Offline finding enables this device and AirTags to be found when not connected to Wi-Fi or cellular," read the setting on the iPhone used in the video.

AirTags Patents

An Apple patent for a "locatable tag" gives us a look at the accessories that Apple might use with the AirTags, and insight into how AirTags could potentially work. A general disc-like design is shown off in AirTags patents, and the wording suggests that AirTags could be splash proof and able to withstand drops.


Apple also describes a bracelet-like tag that could potentially be worn on the wrist, and there's also a description of AirTags used on emergency items like fire extinguishers to help people locate these devices quickly in an emergency.


The patent suggests AirTags could be used as beacons to pop up information like maps on iPhones when entering a new location or for augmented reality apps and games.

There may be several AirTags usage modes, such as a lost mode that would allow an AirTag to interface with an iPhone that comes near it, and the patent describes a charging base that's able to charge the AirTags.


It's not clear if we'll actually see these patented features and options come to fruition, but there are some interesting examples of ways that Apple could perhaps be planning to use the AirTags.

When will AirTags be released?

There were signs of AirTags in an Apple internal build of iOS 13 and later versions of iOS 13, but AirTags aren't expected until later in 2020.

Ming-Chi Kuo, who often has accurate insight into Apple's plans, believes Universal Scientific Industrial will begin supplying the system-in-package for the Air Tags in the second to third quarter of 2020. Kuo previously said the AirTags will launch in the first half of 2020, so the AirTags seem ready to go at any point.

Apple is planning to hold an event on Tuesday, November 10, and that may be the last chance for AirTags to be introduced in 2020.

AirTags Rumor List
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Article Link: AirTags: Everything We Know So Far
 
Last edited:

DinkThifferent

macrumors 6502
Oct 18, 2018
488
1,127
The Netherlands
Will definitely turn my Blue Tooth off as it might drain the battery if those things will try to constantly discover or connect to my phone.
I have bluetooth always on due to my Apple Watch and also to connect my BT headphones. Similarly i have BT turned on, on my iPad to listen to music or play games. I have never noticed my iPad (or phone) to die quicker with BT turned on then with BT turned off.

BT used to be a battery killer, but ever since Bluetooth 4 was introduced it has hardly any impact on the battery anymore. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetooth#Bluetooth_4
 

MoreRumors?

macrumors 6502a
Feb 28, 2018
884
669
TBH, after Apple merged Find My Friends and Find My Device, it doesn’t seem to work as well and there is no Refresh tab in the new Find My app. I would hold off on investing these until the app improves. Find People option seem to take quite a while before it locates the person. At times, I find the Find Device to be inaccurate at times too.
 
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JCarmona

macrumors regular
May 23, 2014
102
63
Geez! You have more information than what Apple will put in their website *IF* they actually launch... *cough* Airpower *Cough*
 

marc1184

macrumors newbie
Aug 30, 2016
18
25
If you go to the new AirPods Pro website, at the bottom you can preview the AR used to find the lost AirPods Pro. I’m sure this will be how AirTags will show up as well.
 
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Mike MA

macrumors 68020
Sep 21, 2012
2,061
1,723
Germany
For me this one looks like a preferred candidate to access the circle of brickable devices due to allegedly missing wired restore options. HomePod, Apple Watch and TV are proud members already.
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
34,698
36,153
I love the concept of these, and I think they’re going to be ridiculously popular. But speaking for myself, I’m not one to misplace things, I always tend to have track mentally somewhere where all my belongings are. Now, we all lose things at some time, maybe it’s just because I’m just organized/structured that I don’t feel this product would be for me, but I definitely _could_ make the recommendation for several people I know that would love something like this.
 
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