I had an AirTag emergency last week.
As with so many Apple deliveries over the past 12 months, my order of an AirTag four-pack and two keychain accessories had been delayed.
The date had slipped from 30th April to mid-May. Not ideal when you’re one of the countless reviewers who doesn’t get sent this stuff by Apple.
Thankfully, I’ve somehow built an incredibly helpful Discord community, and one member pointed out that I could grab a single AirTag from a third-party UK retailer for next day delivery. So, I did, and I’ve consequently had one since Saturday.
I needn’t have worried. Because I was right about AirTags.
This is the simplest Apple product in recent memory. And it’s barely worth reviewing.
Although, obviously, I will.
If you pay attention to Apple rumours, you knew what was coming with AirTags; they look exactly like the leaks and renders.
For my UK audience, they’re about the size of a £2 coin, albeit considerably thicker. They’re very light, too. In fact, almost abnormally so, for an Apple product.
There’s no built-in keychain hole, hook or slit. But there was never going to be anything like that; this is an Apple device. They don’t do stuff like that. Remember – this company designed a laptop keyboard that was so thin it was barely usable.
AirTags are constructed of plastic and aluminium. Standard Apple stuff. As a result, you shouldn’t expect yours to remain as shiny as it was when you first peeled away that protective film; it’ll quickly scratch up as readily as the rear of an iPod Classic.
A CR2032 battery nestles neatly inside the AirTag, and you can easily access it with a gentle push-and-twist motion of the casing. We’re told the battery will last around a year, which is great news.
AirTags look like they were always going to look. They’re pretty little things and slightly unpractical – until you add the required accessories.
Again, standard Apple stuff.
How they work
As soon as you remove the protective tab from the AirTag’s battery, your iPhone recognises its presence and asks you to pair it with your Apple ID. You then simply give it a name that indicates its purpose (Apple provides a bunch of the most obvious), and away you go.
It takes seconds. It’s secure (only you have access to its whereabouts on your iPhone). It’s so Apple.
It’s important to bear in mind that AirTags are designed to help you locate lost items – they’re not anti-theft tracking devices. And they do a wonderful job with this simple task.
Apple has spent years building the tech required to make AirTags a slick product. The U1 chip in devices like the iPhones 11 and 12 and the brilliant Find My Network (which essentially brings together every compatible iPhone, iPad and MacBook to create an anonymous lost-and-found service for us all) have all been leading to the inevitable release of AirTags.
As a result, if you lose your AirTag in the immediate vicinity of your iPhone, the Find My app helps you locate it with very precise onscreen prompts. If you lose it out in the wild, you can locate it via a map, or, if someone happens to come across it, they can scan your AirTag with any smartphone and discover how to contact you.
Privacy is built-in, as you might expect, therefore if an AirTag which doesn’t belong to you is placed on your person, your iPhone will alert you to the fact, and it’ll start beeping after a while, anyway.
AirTags do exactly what you expect them to, and they do it brilliantly. It’s the only Apple product I can think of for quite some time that doesn’t include any form of “why have you/haven’t you [delete as appropriate] done that, Apple?”.
Should you buy AirTags?
This is tricky to answer because it depends entirely on how regularly you misplace stuff.
I don’t, really. The single AirTag I have at the moment has been placed in my wallet, but I rarely take that anywhere these days, thanks to Apple Pay.
In fact, when my Apple delivery eventually makes its way to my doorstep, I’m going to have five AirTags in total, and I’m genuinely not sure what I’m going to do with them, despite my initial plans.
If, like me, you don’t lose stuff that often or simply don’t have that many possessions you need to keep track of, I’d give AirTags a miss. If, on the other hand, you’re always losing your keys and wallet, they’re a great little buy. They’re just ‘cheap’ enough to make them an easy Apple purchase.
AirTags make a mockery of the Apple rumour mill. There was so much anticipation, concern and theoretical hyperbole surrounding this Apple release and it has been met with something so simple it’s barely worth concerning yourself with.
Apple has, mercifully, made this an incredibly easy purchasing decision. AirTags just work. They’re useful if you lose stuff regularly. If you don’t, you probably don’t need them. It’s why the AirTag is Apple’s smartest stocking filler so far.